Monday, June 30, 2008

French style Potato Salad

Everyone had a great time. The menu was eclectic, tasty and came together well.

June 29, 2008 Sunday Cafe menu:

Roasted turkey (2 days in brine with rosemary and garlic)

Asian noodle salad (from Pioneer Woman website)

French potato salad (from Pressure cooking for dummies book), on a platter surrounded by sliced tomatoes and deviled eggs

Smoked paprika buttermilk sauce, a savory sauce for the turkey

Cranberry sauce

Cheddar with garlic & parsley biscuits (thanks to the All Purpose baking mix, easy last minute and delicious!)

Rhubarb strawberry crumble pie

Ice cream cake

and last but not least Papa's ice cream sandwiches with brownie waffles.


The day was extra special because it was also Son and Daughter in law's 6 wedding anniversary.

The weather has been hot, and I had been cooking in the oven most of the day. After dinner we all went out to sit in the breeze. There was a breeze, some thunder and lightening strikes and rain. Granddaughter played on the slide, chased bubbles and everyone had a nice visit. After a while the "great divide" happened and the menfolk stayed outside to talk and the womenfolk went inside to relax. Granddaughter went between the two groups playing with each until boredom set in! Back and forth, back and forth.

Eventually it was time to call it a night. Leftover were shared, goodbyes and hugs and then quiet. The cat came out from hiding, we took a short walk. Then showers and bedtime. All in all a wonderful day.

Sunday Cafe warm French style potato salad
Pressure cooker

2 pounds small red potatoes
1 1/2 c dry white wine (I used Holland house white)
1/4 c vinegar (I used white balsamic)
1/2 t salt

4-6 green onions, sliced thin
1/4 c flat leaf parsley minced (if you cannot find at your market, the regular parsley is fine)
1/2 t garlic salt
4 T olive oil

Scrub potatoes, prick with the tip of a knife or fork tines. place in the bottom of the cooker, add wine, vinegar and salt. Secure the lid. Bring to boiling an full pressure. Lower the heat to keep full pressure but not have a high pitched hiss of steam escaping. Cook 10 minutes. Release pressure with rapid release method.

Remove potatoes from the cooker, set aside to cool. There will be about 1 cup of liquid left in the cooker, simmer to reduce the volume by half. Remove from the heat and let cool. Cut potatoes bite side pieces. Add the onions, parsley garlic salt and oil to the liquid in the cooker, whisk to combine. Pour over potatoes and toss gently to mix.

Serves 4 - 6

Enjoy!

M

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Doldrums have been present

Well I must confess, the doldrums have come to visit.

I have not had much desire to cook anything, much less something good enough to share.

That has to change this Sunday however, because we are having Sunday Cafe. I do have a turkey in brine (rosemary and garlic seasoned) and I will be shopping for the fresh items needed to make great side dishes this afternoon when my work week is done.

Maybe that will be the end of the doldrums.

M

Monday, June 23, 2008

A new week

I can only eat so much rice pudding before my quest to get a perfect recipe to share here, is dull with desire! Oh my gosh, I am still eating the second batch, and it is better than the first, but the rice pudding recipe will have to be "in progress", and a move to other cooking will commence. I did purchase some medium grain rice however, so I shall get back to the pudding race again next week. I was correct however, leaving out the butter gave a smoother texture, and there were no little grease balls.

The garden space was tilled by my Son In Law, I am very grateful (maybe some rice pudding as a gesture of gratitude?), it would of taken me several weeks to do by hand what a couple of hours of tilling accomplished. This morning I raked the surface smooth, and now the work of removing the rocks and some borders can begin. I know I will not plant much if anything this year, it will be a period of finish work; cleaning debris (rocks, garden label sticks, bottle caps etc) from the soil and working nourishment in. The deck that was over the garden space was built with the boards very close together, so not a lot of junk is needing to be cleaned out. I do have a bumper crop of rocks however! They will be put to good use, as gravel for the paths between the crops.

It is very quiet in my neighborhood this week, my back fence borders an elementary school and now school is out. The only sound coming from the school yard is the sound of the air conditioners keeping the portable classrooms at a stable temperature. As the season passes, kids will begin returning to the school yard to play, but this morning it is very quiet.

Mondays I spend the afternoon with my Granddaughter. We will spend some time together and then PaPa will be home from work and we can all share dinner before taking her back home. I have a number of things I want to get done today, there is the standard Monday chores, change the linens, laundry, grocery shop etc. In addition I would like to bake a loaf of bread, and try another pressure cooker recipe. I did not meet the goal set for last week, and I now realize it was not a realist goal to set. I should make the goal for a month, that way there is time to eat the food cooked. My frugal nature will not allow much else!

I do hope to share a whole wheat bread recipe tomorrow. I resisted buying a bread machine for the longest time, and then after reading an article on the King Arthur website, I bought one. The article addressed the wonderful way a bread machine will knead one perfect loaf of dough. I have never baked bread in the machine, but it has made many loaves of dough; and then after an additional rise a traditional oven baking.

Enjoy your day!

M

Friday, June 20, 2008

Still seeking rice pudding

I had a taste of the finished rice pudding from last night. It is tasty, it is also breakfast food; to use it up and not have waste.

Several problems, wrong kind of rice, I had Arborio rice on hand and used that. Wrong choice, it is too stout for pudding. I should have realized, since it is used for risottos. I will need to pick up some short grained regular rice.

It (still) does not have enough flavor, I will need to add more vanilla and cinnamon.

I liked the egg trick however. I have always been a fan of cooked puddings, so the egg technique will be used again I am sure.

My pressure cooking goals for the week were admirable, but so far not one success worthy of sharing here. I think that I will need to work with a cookbook for more than a week, to perfect a recipe for blogging. Blogging keeps me interacting with my kitchen, even when I have had a long day and I am tired. I think I have finally found a source of ongoing encouragement that I can manage and have fun with!

On another note, my Granddaughter age 3 has her own library card. She has been taken to the library since she traveled in an infant seat. She love books and reading. The criteria for a library card in our community is that a child must be mature enough to write their name to have a card. She now has her own card. I just love her so, and I am very grateful to her parents for doing such a great job.

Tonight after work, it will be French style potato salad. Oh and pick up some regular short grain rice.

My Honey will be back from his week away at work, it will be great to have him home and share a nice dinner together.

Enjoy your day!

M

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quick update on the pudding

My order of chores after work was, visit my 93 year old friend, stop for milk, bring in the garbage and recycling cans, make pudding. This was changed somewhat because my Son in Law, bless him; came to rototill the garden area.

The pudding is now done, and of course it was different in reality that my thoughts.

Short grain rice does not need as much liquid to cook. After the standing time, it was very "soupy". So I changed things a bit to save the food invested. I used a soup ladle to gather some of the cooked milk, about 1/2 cup. This was cooled a bit and one egg was beaten into the milk. Then the egg/milk mixture was stirred slowly into the hot rice. I then set the burner to medium and brought the whole pan to a simmer. Reattached the lid and let it set for 10 minutes to cook the egg and thicken the pudding.

We shall see. Freestyle sometimes is rescue-style!

Tomorrow I will let you know the edible outcome.

M

Invited to dinner

Last nights plans to make the freestyle rice pudding, were quickly swept away with one phone call, Grammy would you like to come to dinner? Since my Honey is out of town on a job assignment, that phone call was music to my ears.

I had cooking the pudding and taking out the garbage to look forward to. Well and feed the cat.

My Son grilled brats and my Daughter in Law made strawberry shortcake. Delicious, and what a treat to catch up with one another midweek. Granddaughter was fun to play with, we played "simon says" and then "catch me chase me". She also filled the bird feeder in the back yard and was a total ham for her mom for some pictures. She is growing up quickly, it is hard to miss a moment with her, the changes are just that fast.

Their backyard looks great, the raspberries are ripening and the vegetables in the raised beds are zooming along. They will have zucchini soon.

So I did not make pudding.

Tonight after work I will stop for milk and white cooking wine, visit with my little 93 year old friend, take the garbage and recycling cans in from the curb, feed the cat. Then make pudding.

I also have more pressure cooking cookbooks, I plan on getting those out and reviewing the recipes. Who knows what I might find.

I have been eating the first batch of pudding for breakfast, and I will leave out the butter and use whole milk when I make it again. The texture of the cold butter is "greasy" even though it is only 2 tablespoons. I had wondered when I first read the recipe, cold butter after cooking tends to be very tiny balls of butter scattered throughout what ever was cooked. I love butter, but not that way.

Now it is time for a second cup of coffee and getting ready for work, today is my long day.

Enjoy your day!

M

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Technique was good, finished pudding not good

Learn as you go can be interesting.

A cook can also end up with food that is edible but not blogable!

Such as the rice pudding that resulted from the Dummies book. I prefer a creamy rice pudding. Sweet without being too sweet. What resulted was rice cooked in milk and sugar. There was no creamy, there was no pudding. The recipe resulted in my learning a new and useful technique, so not all was lost.

The Dummies recipe called for:

3 c milk ( I thought, not enough liquid)
1 c long grain rice (I thought, short grain would be better)
2 T butter
1/3 c sugar ( I thought, not enough for that much food)
1 t vanilla ( I thought, not enough period)

Bring milk and butter to a boil in cooker, stir in rice. Secure cover, bring up pressure on high. Cook 10 minutes, remove from heat and let finish 25 minutes. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Serve warm or room temperature sprinkled with cinnamon. Serves 6

The description in the book stated, rice pudding with just the right bite. Personally I don't want bite in my pudding, I want soft, I want creamy, I want pudding.

Those quantities produce sweet cooked rice, but not a pudding.

My thoughts:

I know milk will burn quickly, I think cooking on medium heat would be better. Simply add a few minutes to the cooking time before the standing time.

More vanilla.

Cinnamon in the pudding, not on top.

A bit more sugar.


This is what I will try tonight:

4 c milk
2 T butter
2 T sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

1 c short grain rice

Bring milk, butter, sugar and cinnamon to a boil in pressure cooker over medium/high heat. Stir in rice, continue stirring for a moment to keep rice grains separate.

Secure lid, continue cooking on medium/high until pressure has built up, reduce heat to medium, cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat, leaving cooker on burner, let rest 25 minutes.

Remove cover, stir in:

1/2 c sugar
2 t vanilla

Chill before serving.

Time for work, enjoy your day!

M

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A dessert

As I sit here writing this sentence, the pressure cooker is busy simmering away with Creamy Rice pudding, from the Dummies book. The recipe states to cook on high. But that really is misleading. Once the pressure builds, you need to adjust (turn down) the heat; especially with dairy and starch. The cooker should have a steady steam of gentle steam. Even the noise emitted is gentle, it should not sound angry or harsh.

I love rice pudding.

This will be a treat.

The first part of the recipe states to bring milk, butter and rice to a boil, secure the lid and cook 10 minutes. Easy, however the second part of the recipes states let the pressure drop by the "natural release" method, which really means, the cook does nothing once the pan is pulled from the burner and set aside. Easier!

I have already decided how to freestyle the recipe, through the years experience has taught me the correct measures for my tastes. I will have the recipe for you tomorrow. Today I am still working hard on this one, especially the second part!

The house is a bit quiet, my Honey left last night for a job assignment in the Seattle area. I have a list of "chores" to accomplish to keep me busy in his absence.

I cleaned fruit last night. Strawberries, cantaloupe and rhubarb. The rhubarb went into the freezer. The berries were quartered and sugared. I think tonight I will put them into freezer containers, I can only eat so much fruit by myself. The melon I will eat. Oh and rice pudding!

I need to stop by the market on the way home and purchase one item for the next recipe. Dry white wine. My goal was to make 3 recipes from the book, using ingredients already in the pantry. I keep cooking wine on hand, I simple had no idea the recipe would call for so much, and my bottle is almost empty.

I have developed a bit more cooking discipline with this blog. I like that.

One of the things I will try to get done while alone this week, is a written inventory of food. Freezer food. Just like the vegetable drawer, the freezer food gets neglected. Also I would like to get more beans cooked up and frozen for future use. I understand I can make beans in just a moment with the pressure cooker, but cooked beans in the freezer, ready to use are just as convenient as canned beans, only better.

Yesterday I also baked a loaf of whole wheat bread, it is good; but not great. I will freestyle that and offer it on the blog in a few days.

Have a great day to enjoy!

M

Monday, June 16, 2008

Patio Chicken or you can make it in the oven

Book of the week? That is my thought, select a cookbook off the shelf and use it for a week. Post any recipe that is good (that I have spiced with a little "freestyle") here. Because I want to master using the pressure cooker and crockpot, I think I will start with a book on either of those subjects.

Let's see pressure cooker-crockpot-pressure cooker-crockpot. OK Pressure cooker it is.

Years ago I was fortunate to be able to attend a cooking demonstration at our local organic market. The gentleman presenting the demonstration was Tom Lacalamita. He has written many cookbooks. He is a great cook and seems to have fun doing what he does. A couple of years later I purchased Pressure Cookers for Dummies. That will be the book I use this week. I will probably get some things cooked for the freezer as well, because my Honey is going out of town on a job assignment.

I had a Mother that was frightened to death over pressure cookers. She instilled a healthy fear, but I am breaking free of that. I have a Fagor pressure cooker. It does not hiss, it does not sputter and it has a quick release valve. I like it and I have used it, just not enough. That might change after this week!

Goals for the week:
1 vegetable
1 entree
1 dessert

That should not cause too much stress. I have already spotted a warm potato salad recipe that looks good. The budget trick is finding a recipe that completes the goal list and calls for food already in the pantry. I am fairly well stocked, so I should not have too many excuses!

I also have rhubarb, cantaloupe and strawberries to deal with today. The melon is begging to be cut and eaten and the berries must be clean, quartered and sugared. If they don't get eaten this week while my Honey is gone, they can be frozen. The rhubarb will probably be cleaned and frozen, my plants are young and they do not produce much yet.

Since the sun has come out to play once or twice in the last couple of days, here is a recipe for your grill. This would go great with that warm potato salad from the pressure cooker.

Patio Chicken
Outdoor grill (or oven and broiler for colder times)

1/4 c water
1/4 c white wine (Holland house white is fine)
1/4 c rice vinegar
3 T soy sauce
1 clove garlic minced
1 t leaf oregano
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper

3 - 4 pounds of chicken parts

Combine all marinade ingredients, pour over chicken in a large ziploc type bag. Squeeze out all air and seal bag. Chicken should be surrounded by the marinade, knead bag gently to make sure all chicken parts are exposed to the marinade. Refrigerate 24-48 hours, knead bag twice daily.

Grill (or broil) chicken until done.

Serves 4 - 6

Enjoy!

M

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Raw Apple Cake, and learn as you go

I have been working on a computer for many years now, and like a lot of folks; never took a class. Simply learned what I needed to know, as I needed to know it. So far that has worked OK.

The program for this blog is fairly simple (or maybe it is me!), however I usually need to work with something for a while to understand it well enough to venture onward. This morning I did venture onward, I put labels on all previous posts. A list of the following: bread, soup, salad, vegetables, meat, cake, cookies, pie and misc fun. Oh and the all purpose mix, my hope is to come up with more recipes using the mix.

I am learning so much about myself and how I approach life, as I write this blog.

I have some traits that I am proud of and some (yeah, not so much) that I need to improve. It is rather comical that we learn about ourselves as we write about ourselves. Often there is not time to observe and learn as we go about our daily chores and rituals. But as we write it down, to show to the world, we are able to see ourselves in another light.

Of course all is lost, if you do not write what is real and learn as you go!

Tomorrow is Father's Day. I will wish my Son a happy day. I will wish my Honey a happy day. I will have thoughts of my Dad, gone for many years now. I will make a nice dinner and have a little gift for my honey to honor him on this day. I might even make this cake.

Sunday Cafe raw apple cake
350F

4 c peeled diced apple pieces (3 or 4 large apples)

1/2 c oil
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla

2 c flour
2 t soda
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon

3 T sugar
1 t cinnamon

In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in apple pieces. In a medium size bowl, stir together flour, soda, salt and the cinnamon. Stir flour mixture into apple mixture, making sure all ingredients are moist and no dry pockets of flour remain.

Press batter into a prepared 9X13 pan. Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over cake batter. Bake 50 - 60 minutes or until done.

Serves 16-20

Enjoy!

M

Friday, June 13, 2008

Brownie Marshmallow Cake, in the slow lane

We are in the slow lane! Rather like a hurry up and wait mode.

Lots of things to do, with other things to do, in the way.

The sun did shine yesterday and it did warm up. I could see it from my office window. I sat in my car during my lunch break, to soak up the heat. Finally warm, I shed my sweater.

In our newspaper last night was an article about cold temperatures. There has been only one recorded year colder than 2008, that was back in 1917.

Considering all of the cold, I think the backyard is doing OK. Full of singing birds and romping squirrels. The grass does need mowing again and weeds need pulling. The roddies need to be dead headed. I like that job actually. It is an opportunity to work standing up, and the bushes always look nice when you are done.

Being an amateur in landscaping, the Potager is a new journey. I feel secure in the knowledge that if a plant does not do well in the location planted, try another spot. Most plants take a replanting fairly well. Which is a good thing, I am definitely an amateur.

I have 4 books coming. Two books are on tomatoes, these are cookbooks as well as reference books on different kinds of tomatoes, especially heirloom varieties. I enjoy tomatoes, so these should be fun and informational. Another book on berries, this also is a cookbook/information book about different kinds of berries. Just like tomatoes, I cannot get enough berries. And finally the book for the Potager.

With the weekend coming, it is time for cake.

Sunday Cafe brownie marshmallow cake
350F

1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
4 eggs
1 16oz can chocolate syrup (hersheys)
1 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla

2 1/2 c marshmallows

1 c sugar
1/4 c milk
1/4 c butter
1/2 c chocolate chips
1 t vanilla

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar, add eggs beat well. Blend in the syrup. Combine dry ingredients throughly, add to syrup mixture and mix well. Add vanilla. Pour into prepared 9X13 pan. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with the marshmallows.

In medium size saucepan combine sugar, milk and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter melts, reduce to low and cook stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Stir in chocolate chip stirring until smooth, stir in vanilla. Drizzle over marshmallows *.

Let cake cool completely.

Serves 16-20

Enjoy!

M


* you may add chopped walnuts immediately after drizzling glaze for a "Rocky Road" cake.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The never ending gray

I do not remember such a gray spring.

It seems winter-like weather will simply continue until summer, and at this point it does not look good for summer! June is gray and cold, should not be gray and cold. Blue and cool, I could enjoy. As I have stated before hot is not necessary. But I am fairly certain most Pacific Northwesterners are having a serious vitamin D deficit right now!

The tomatoes have yellow blooms, and the raspberries have white blooms. The rhubarb is growing, and of course the weeds. But the sun is no where to be found. I have begun to miss the sun. I do not usually have "feelings" regarding the weather. I will take it as it comes, do what is necessary to get the job done; like open an umbrella or change out of wet clothes because of the surprise downpour. But I am feeling (definitely) that I have had enough gray, cold and wet. It is hard to be motivated about much, especially chores outdoors where it is gray, cold and wet.

But, the book will arrive and the ground needs to be tilled for the Potager.

My plan this year is to just prepare.

The bed with compost and soil enrichments.

The perimeter of the garden with a bordered stone edge.

The "path" that will take you from the concrete slab at the back door to the other side of the garden where the lawn begins again.

The basic design of what will go where, and the rotation of each year after to allow the soil to renew.

The "fluff stuff", I have a gazing ball and a garden stone from my granddaughter. There are other treasures as well, because the Potage will be functional as well as soothing to the spirit.

I had set a (loose) goal to spend an hour in the yard each morning. Man o man, have I failed there! It is hard for me to get excited when I am so cold. All of my complaining about the cold is getting old, just like the gray weather.

For now however, I must get ready for work.

Have a great day!

M

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hot Apple Pie Granola

Since starting my blog, I have come to realize that I am a freestyle cook. I love recipes, read them, have books of them, have a membership to websites containing them, but for everyday cooking I am a freestyle cook. Freestyle cooking allows me to use what we have in the pantry, incorporate bits and dabs left in the fridge to save money, and somewhat allow a few "what sounds good to you?". I offer that when I am tired, because I have more desire to cook when fulfilling a request.

However, freestyle cooking does not lend itself well to a blog. Recipes do.

Rather than see this as a sad situation to be in, I am viewing this issue from a positive angle. I will now take the opportunity to try those 1000 recipes clipped and neatly held together in my desk drawer. I will try those recipes that I have in my own little inbox from Recipezar. And Allrecipes. And the almost 100 cookbooks on the shelf in my home.

Don't get me wrong, I have cooked recipes from all those places. But now I have a new mission, to obtain recipes worthy of sharing here. Let's be honest, we all as cooks; have different thoughts as to what is delicious. For that reason I especially enjoy cookbooks and recipes from certain sources or cooks. The style or subject may match your own ideals about cooking and food. The ingredients are also in keeping with what you eat and or believe in.

I have some fun work cut out for me now!

The following is a delicious treat. It is unusual, but do not let the method cause concern. I have made this many times.

Sunday Cafe hot apple pie granola

1 apple peeled and diced
2 T butter

1 1/2 c old fashion oats
1 egg beaten

1 T sugar
2 T brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt

1/2 c water

Saute apple in butter over medium heat, take care not to over brown.

In medium size bowl, beat egg well. Add oats and coat oats evenly with the beaten egg.

Add oats to the pan with the apples and saute until oats are dry, seperated and golden and apple is tender.

Add remaining ingredients except water, stir to mix all ingredients evenly. Add water, continue to cook additional 2 - 3 minutes or until all water is gone, stir occasionally. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 1 minute. Serve plain or with milk or yogurt.

Serves 2 - 3

Enjoy!

M

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Three Flour Buttermilk Bread

On Monday I worked a bit in the future Potager. I hand picked red rock and shoveled sand.

I picked out about a million little red rocks, but it only was half of a large bucket. Then I shoveled half of the sandy base (under the pavers) to another part of the garden so the sand will be mixed evenly when we rototill. Again I use the term we loosely, I am fairly certain I actually will not be using the rototiller.

Monday is actually my Sunday. I always get things done, but I was ready for a bit of a lazy day as well. As the day progressed, it was gray and cool. Then the evening turned to wind and rain. The sunscreen canopy over the BBQ cooking area took a bit of a shaking in the wind. As did the tomato plants, but all was well this morning.

Part of my chores yesterday was some shopping. I decided to replace my yeast. It is far cheaper to buy a 32 ounce bag of yeast at Costco for $3.39 replacing it every 4-5 years, than the 3 pack envelopes. So that is what I do. I can also share with the kids. My yeast was about 5 years old and although it still works, sometimes not as reliable as I would like. Especially if I am baking something for a shared meal. I would like to be able to count on the rise time and bake time, so I can serve it. I also needed to pick up some gluten. I do not use a lot of additives when I bake, but I do like to add some gluten when making whole grain breads.

I also gave some thought to the June Sunday Cafe. I think I will serve a summer turkey. Roast turkey with an assortment of salads. I make a fairly good potato salad, in addition I will make a pasta salad (I noticed one on the Pioneer Woman cooks site, this would be a good time) and a fruit salad. Turkey is delicious and a lighter meal with salads will be refreshing. And of course fresh baked bread.

This is delicious, and makes 2 loaves.

3 flour buttermilk bread
375 degrees

3 c white flour
2 c whole wheat flour
1 c rye flour
3 T brown sugar
2 1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
1 T yeast (1 package)
1 c buttermilk
1 c water
1/3 c butter

In a large bowl, combine flours.
In mixer bowl, combine 2 c flour mixture, brown sugar,salt, soda and yeast.

In medium size pan, warm the water and butter until butter is almost melted. Remove from heat, add buttermilk. Let cool if too hot, add warm liquids to the flour in mixer bowl. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed.

Add another 1 c of the flour mixture and beat additional 2 minutes at medium speed.

Reserve 1/2 flour mixture for kneading and stir the rest into the mixer bowl, blend in until moistened.

Dump dough out onto clean dry surface, using reserved flour mixture knead until smooth and elastic. Return to the mixer bowl, cover with a towel, let rise until doubled.

Punch down dough, shape into 2 loaves and place in prepared loaf pans. Let rise until doubled.

Bake 35-45 minute. Turn loaves out to cool

Makes 2 loaves.

Enjoy!

M

Monday, June 9, 2008

Potager Gardener's Soup

We (and I use that term loosely, since it is mostly my Honey doing the hard stuff) worked yesterday taking out the rest of the deck and the lower level of concrete pavers. In addition red rock had to be raked and shoveled into buckets and moved to another area. The red rock was deep in some areas, making it clear that the previous owners had replaced it once before. I actually like red rock, my Honey; yeah not so much! He was glad to get rid of the deck if only to get rid of the red rocks! I have been researching Potager gardens on the internet and my book on the subject will arrive within "10 to 14 business days". I am looking forward to a new backyard. Where good things grow, and a sense of accomplishment exists.

I have always thought that gardens should not be ruled by category. Such as: Here is my vegetable garden and over here folks you will find flower gardens. In my own thoughts a garden should be composed of what is worthy of growing (sustains your table) and what is beautiful (florals for beauty and health), and they would share the same space. As the seasons passed, the garden would also change. Going from growth to rest and repeated. A place to putter, enjoy and work.

I also realize there will be another spot where the weeds will win!

In addition there will be a spot where the grandkids can visit and learn and share experiences. There will be a spot where perfectly ripe strawberries can be picked. There will be a spot that is meant for the family, and is a part of the kitchen meals. A spot to simply sit and enjoy.

I invited us over for dinner at the kids house. You can get away with that, when you are the Grammy!

We took salmon to grill, a bottle of chardonnay and roses from the side yard. My son grilled and they added baked potatoes and a salad. There was also sliced watermelon for dessert. Everyone had a nice visit. After dinner, I gave Granddaughter her bath and bed time stories, by request. We all had a nice time. School is ending, summer beginning (soon I hope, still gray today), camping trips to plan, lots of gatherings and Sunday Cafe.

In the spirit of a Potager garden,

Sunday Cafe 1 vegetable soup

1 pound meat of choice
4 qts stock of choice

8-10 of the following:

1 small onion
1 russet potato
1 handful of peas
1 tomato
1 clove garlic
1 ear of corn
1 carrot
1 bunch spinach
1 zucchini
1 stalk celery
1 pepper
1 handful green beans
1 parsnip
1 sweet potato
1 turnip
1 bunch kale
1 yellow crookneck
1 of any other item you have and I forgot

1 large handful of green lentils
1 large handful of barley
1 large handful of brown rice

1 t salt
1 bay leaf
1 t thyme crushed in pestle
fresh pepper

In bottom of large soup kettle, brown meat of choice in small amount of fat. Add stock and choice of vegetables. Add lentils, barley and rice. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, add seasoning and let simmer covered for 1 hour.

Remove 1 cup of the stock, pour into a flat soup bowl to cool. Add 2 T flour to the cooled stock and mix well to remove all lumps, return flour mixture to soup pot. Bring to a boil and let soup thicken slightly.

Serves 6 - 8 with leftovers

Enjoy!

Recipe rating: Oh Yes! (will make again)
M

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The red apron


I have always been a "get in and get it done" sort of person. If my clothes get dirty along the way, so be it. I will simply put on another (cleaner) pair of jeans and another shirt. Run a comb through my hair and away we go.

Aprons always seemed like a nice thing, but I never remembered to put one on. After a few years (like 30 or so) I no longer had aprons, having given them away. Until Christmas. My Daughter made me a red apron for Christmas. It is beautiful, and is red and a gift from her. It has a permanent home, folded neatly next to the kitchen Aid mixer. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter asked me if I used the apron. I had to confess, no. She remarked that no one, she had made aprons for at Christmas; used their gift.

At the time, I did not feel bad, simply a bit sad. Sad that I had not even tried the apron, simply folded it and placed it neatly in the kitchen, much like a decoration.

As a child I had been taught that something "too pretty to use everyday" was saved. And the red apron, is certainly that. Too pretty to use everyday.

Saved for what I do not know, and "it" was never ever explained.

Certainly not saved for a rainy day, we have hundreds of them here in Vancouver. Certainly not for a dinner party, I really don't have parties. I have "company" and when company comes, it is my responsibility (and pleasure) to make them comfortable. An apron is not required for that.

This morning I threw a pan of apple rolls into the oven, and before I began; I reached for the apron. I slipped it over my head and began working. It felt comfortable, much like my daughter herself. I completed the pan of dough and placed it into the oven to bake, and knew instantly what I would blog about this morning. My daughters apron.

She is a fighter. A quiet, strong fighter. She is tall and beautiful and dedicated. She is fearless. She is accomplished, always willing to try. She makes me proud.

She will be 30 on her next birthday. I had a long labor with her, 30 hours actually. Our running joke had been she "owed" me a year for each hour. She knows it is a joke, but I have gotten many a cup of coffee delivered to me, using that as a ploy! But really I owe her, and my Son for the love they taught me how to grow.

No recipe tops this!

Enjoy your day,

key words:  daughters, aprons, homemade gifts, family

Friday, June 6, 2008

We now have a Pennyworth Conveince Store

Thursdays are my long day, during my lunch break I usually stroll the aisles of the local Ross store nearby.

I have a fondness for gum ball machines.

As of Wednesday there was only one in the kitchen, it held the beloved (but now becoming boring) jelly belly beans.

Thursday evening the kitchen housed 2 of those cute little guys. The second one holds bubble gum, each takes a penny and therefore will offer up a "Pennyworth". But the Granddaughter will have to choose, jelly belly or gum. She has been requesting gum on a regular basis, "Grammy, can I have a piece of gum?". I do not carry gum in my purse. I sometimes have gum in my lunch bag. My lunch bag is rarely with us, when the request comes in.

After we filled the machine and placed it on the ledge next to the jelly belly filled one, my Honey remarked. "We have a convenience store for a 3 year old in our house". And yes we do. She can have a treat every time she comes to visit, but only a Pennyworth.

It is so much fun having grandchildren.

On that thought, here is a fun and frugal treat.

Sunday Cafe jelly milk

1 jar of jelly/jam with about 2 T left in the bottom
3/4 c milk
whipped cream (in a can, it always is ready and makes a pretty mound)

add the milk to the jar

replace lid and secure tightly

Kiss the grandchild on the forehead and then explain the process of shaking the milk in the jar to dissolve the jelly and mix it into the milk

The actually shaking will be the responsibility of the grandchild

When mixed completely and ready to drink, pour into a glass, add of rosette of whipped cream and a straw.

Serves 1

Enjoy!

M

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Pork Chops with Zucchini.

I have a happy home, nothing beats that.

When I got home dinner was almost done, we only had to cook pasta for him and broccoli for me, We had spaghetti and peas. For dessert strawberry funcakes, and by the way. The funcakes are much better with thawed frozen sliced sweetened berries. What a wonderful discovery, because that means a winter time treat awaits, we all know that twinkies are not seasonal! I could eat fresh strawberries everyday of the week, but the funcakes should not be made with fresh berries.

My plans (loose though they were!) to spend an hour weeding a couple of nights this week; were replaced with a walk to the library, to return a book. The book was originally borrowed from the library by one of the Kids, and she thought it would be a good read. Since it had been a good read, and needed to be returned to the library which is just a few blocks away, we had a nice stroll after dinner to return the book. On the way back we came across a pine cone in the street; not an unusual sight in our neighborhood, since we live under a canopy of evergreen trees. My honey kicked the pine cone, and stated "your turn". I kicked the pine cone, and then He did and again remarked "your turn". We kicked the pine cone back to our home (about 1 mile, since we took a wrong turn on the back roads coming home). Sometimes my aim to kick was good and it rambled down the road, sometimes not so much! But it was fun, and I have come to enjoy the little games, and the fun that we create together.

Because I am just now, learning to play.

Life had always been about work, and I am OK with that. We work hard for our families, to provide a warm stable home with meals on the table and warm clothes to wear. But somewhere along the way during my childhood, I never learned the concept of play. I played. But that is different. I had a lot of chores as a kid, and when I had a chance to go out and play, I took it! But I am talking about a concept, an ideal. Understanding play, keeps the heart young. It does not mean you don't mature and behave responsibly, it simply means that you are still smiling on the inside, while the outside is working hard. I do believe that my Granddaughter is why I am learning to play. Such joy lives in that child.

So no weeding last night, only pine cone golf! By the way I won because when we got close to home, Honey asked me how many more kicks to reach the driveway. I replied six. He declared that 8 and below I would win, 9 and above would make him the winner. Six took the pine cone to the street edge of the driveway.

I really enjoy pork chops, they can be prepared many different ways. The recipe I am sharing with you today is tasty, not fussy in any way and is a skillet meal.

Sunday Cafe Pork Chops with Zucchini

4 - 6 pork chops 1 inch thick
3 zucchini cut 1 inch thick
1 mild onion sliced 1/2 inch thick and "ringed"

1/4 c flour
2 T Parmesan cheese
1 t garlic salt
2 grinds of fresh pepper
1/4 t thyme leaves crushed in a pestle

Combine all ingredients in a large plastic bag.

1/4 c water
1 T Marsala

3 T Parmesan cheese

Shake the pork chops in the flour mixture. Brown chops on medium heat on 1 side, turn over and sprinkle with the onions, add the water and Marsala wine. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add the additional Parmesan cheese to the flour mixture in the bag, add zucchini and shake to coat. Add zucchini to the skillet sprinkling with any remaining flour mixture. Cover and simmer an addition 20 to 30 minutes or until done.

Serves 4-6

Enjoy!

M

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tex Mex Rice

Yesterday I worked hard all day. I completely rearranged the kitchen. I found a used small (narrow) entertainment center on Craigslist and bought it for a microwave stand. It also holds a small convection oven and assorted supplies. Now there are counters to use to prepare food. The best part, is that there is now room for both of us to be in the kitchen at the same time and not be in each others way. To rearrange a kitchen is a big task, it includes washing everything and cleaning up the organization in each cupboard.

Mondays are my cleaning, laundry, yard work day, so my day was a bit extra busy. I also change the sheets and the laundry gets folded, put away etc. I was not able to try to keep up on the weeds, but I did keep the date to have the granddaughter for a little fun.

This morning is hard rain, I have been listening to it since 2:00 a.m. The yard will get a good watering, so weeding will be quick and easy. Maybe a couple of nights this week, I can get in an hour in the front, and then next night an hour in the back.

I need to pick the rhubarb, simmer it with orange juice and cinnamon, then sweeten it with honey. That over a slice of yellow cake and a bit of vanilla ice cream is wonderful. I have not planned tonights dinner, but in hearing the rain, it would be a good time to use up that carton of white chili in the freezer, along with some biscuits and salad should keep us happy till bedtime.

With the return to a "green" or simplified lifestyle, along with reuse and recycle, I would like to add rethink. Rethink, what you have and use it in another way. Rethink what you need and what would work, maybe something out of the ordinary. Like a small entertainment center as a appliance shelf. Rethink what is important, and then set in place a plan to complete the project.

My "new" desires are chickens in the back yard, a clothes line, and remove the deck. The deck is where the sun shines and I would rather have a kitchen garden there. The wood from the deck can be reused in the storage shed that needs to be built.

We have a small house, but a happy home. I like comfort and efficiency. I probably won't give up the dishwasher, but probably will return to canning and jam making. I probably won't make my own bar soap, but will make cleaning supplies. I already use vinegar and soda. There is a clean jar waiting to have holes punched in the lid to be a "shaker" for soda, it will be under the sink in th kitchen. There are some great recipes for cleaning supplies on down to earth, a blog that I read. She is an interesting woman, and it is fun to see their home and garden pictures, and learn from her. Speaking of bar soap, if you unwrap the soap and place it in a basket, it will freshen the air, and dry out. Dry soap lasts a long time. It might shrink and crack a bit in the drying process, but the bars once taken to the shower or bathtub will last a long time. You will not see a bar of soap melting in a couple of weeks. If you do not have room for a basket of soap in your bathroom, scatter the bars in your drawers and your clothes will always smell fresh (think sock drawer!).

This is quick and easy, it uses leftover rice* and you could use ground meat of your choosing.

Tex Mex Rice

1 pound ground beef
1 c chopped onion
1 c chopped pepper, any color will be nice
1 T oil
1 t salt
1 t garlic salt
2 t chili powder
1 beef bullion cube
1 16oz can tomatoes, you can use Mexican stewed if you like - do not drain
3 c cooked rice

Crumble beef in large skillet and brown, drain fat and set aside. Add oil, onion and pepper to skillet and saute. Add seasonings and tomatoes with their liquid, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil, add the beef and cooked rice, simmer 5 minutes.

Serves 6

Enjoy!

M


*freeze leftover rice until you have 3 cups.