Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A gift on the doorstep

Last night coming home from work, I notice two things.

My Honey was not home from work (long days equal a frustrating work routine) and a large box was beside the front door.

I knew two things as well, He would be tired when He arrived and the box contained my "winnings".

I was right on both fronts.

We had a quiet dinner of leftovers and afterwards I opened the shipping box. "What are you going to do with another crockpot?", He asked. Good question, because truthfully we already have a couple of crockpots.

One of them I like, the other I don't. It seems to cook too hot. I am hoping the new one will not cook too hot. I personally think that an 8 hour recipe should not be cooked at such a high temperature, that the surface is almost burnt. I seem to have that problem with one of them. Since a crockpot is either on or off, it must be in the calibration of the thermostat. I thought for the longest time, that I simply did not like crockpot cooked food. But I have had a couple of successes and I think that it is the crockpot itself. However, I am still learning. We shall see.

The new one, is a "smart pot" style with clamps to hold the lid on for taking it with you say to share a dinner at another home. A nice touch, even if you are only using the crockpot to keep food hot as you take it somewhere. I had never thought about using a crockpot to keep food hot, until we were over at the kids for a gathering. Everyone that brought food, brought it in a crockpot; hot and ready to serve. It worked out great, no last minute need of the stove.

I have a great book, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger. I tend to forget about the books I have on the shelf in the computer room. I really need to bring a book out into the kitchen and use it for a week or so and then go and choose another. This book will be taken to the kitchen, today. I am hoping to make a carrot cake tonight. I never tire of carrot cake. The recipe is straightforward, and just the right size for our household. I like that kind!

Have a great day!

M

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Begin again

I had actually written a post last night, but Blogger had a problem with saving; and the whole thing was lost. Not sad at all, it was not a great post!

Sunday was July Cafe, everyone had a good time, and I have decided I need a digital camera. My daughter in law took pictures that she will share with me, and they will probably appear in another post.

I have been toying with the idea of a digital camera for a long time. Everything about a digital camera appeals to me, however the greatest thing is the ability to only have great shots. I have throughout the years, kept maybe one or two shots from a roll of 24, because my aim is not so great!

July Sunday cafe menu:

Carolina pulled pork
homemade sandwich buns
pasta salad with zucchini and roasted red pepper and yellow pear tomatoes
tossed green salad
Meaty red sauce with angeletti (grown up spaghetti "o"s)
Saucepan oatmeal cake

I had stumbled upon the pork recipe in our local paper, it was good. Since I love vinegar, I was immediately smitten to want to try it. I did present it slightly different. The recipe called for "pulling" the pork and then tossing it with some of the cooking sauce. I mixed some of the sauce with equal amounts of a standard BBQ sauce we keep in the fridge. Not everyone loves vinegar the way I do.

The sandwich buns were simply white flour dough, patted flat on a cookie sheet. A quick egg wash was applied before they went into the oven to bake.

I had a box of cheese stuffed pasta on the shelf, I decided to cook it up and add the vegetables. I stirred together a quick olive oil vinegarette and added a bit of cranberry mustard for a little sweetness. I also blanched the onion and zucchini for a delicate crisp. It turned out rather well.

OK, the adult spaghetti o's. Simply something to offer those that might not want the pork. It turned out, everyone wanted the pork and then had a serving of pasta. We do have a couple of containers of the pasta in the freezer for future meals at the ready.

Tossed salad, with cherry tomatoes from the kitchen garden.

Saucepan oatmeal cake, to please everyone (because not everyone eats walnuts or dates). I divided the batter between two round layer pans. One I left plain, the other was flavored with the dates, walnuts, chocolate chips and brown sugar cinnamon topping the recipe calls for. They were baked, and the plain cake, frosted with a browned butter icing. I then cut each cake into 8 wedges. These were placed on a serving tray, a small amount of the browned butter icing was drizzled on the date/walnut pieces. Then a little bit of chocolate stirred into the rest of the frosting and it was drizzled over all of the pieces. Rather pretty and each piece had layered taste elements that were enjoyable.

Monday was a busy day. My honey completed the shed through the roof and were able to return all of the stuff that has just been in the yard, back to the shed. He is pleased with the shed, and happy to be able to water and mow. Now the shingles.

And we had the granddaughter for the day. She is a hoot, funny and fun to be with. The day was woven with shed, park, lunch, nap and laughter. Finished the day with dinner and now it is time to start the week again.

Enjoy your day!

M

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Old fashioned pork and beans

Real food, thrifty food, home cooked food.

I keep telling myself that and yet in small ways I fail everyday.

I confess that here because I do not intend to use this blog as an arena. Because it is not, it is an opportunity for me to continue to be real and chat about the life I want to live. I do however use this forum as a discipline tool. If I put it out here, I better be doing it!

Some of the things I will accomplish:

eliminate "throw away" items: plastic wrap, paper towels, plastic grocery bags, etc

make more homemade: cleaners, food, gifts

reuse, recycle, rethink: all things

That does not mean I will not be spontaneous, or I will be stingy, or unfriendly. I will still be me.

Today is day 2 and last day of the yard sale. I do not know how we did financially, and it does not matter. There is more room in the garage for organizing the things we want to keep, without moving box after box to get to it. Other folks were able to get what they needed/wanted for a good price, so it is a win win for everyone.

Today is also my Friday, so after work the time is my own to do as I please, with whom I please. Tomorrow is July Sunday Cafe, and on Monday we get to have the granddaughter all day while her Mom is in a continuing education class. So the day will go quickly, and then before you know it, the whole weekend will have gone quickly, and it will be back to work.

Here is a wonderful "bring real food back" recipe. Beans. I seem to have a respect for beans, and look for ways to learn about them, cook them and enjoy them. Everyone can use a good basic recipe. One that is easy, tastes good and is open to adapting.

Old Fashioned Pork and Beans
crockpot/slow cooker

The evening before:

1 pound pea beans (small whites)
water

Sort beans, place in a large bowl and cover with water by 4 inches. Let rest overnight to soak and soften. Drain well, rinse and drain again.

The next morning:
drained beans
1 T salt
2 T molasses
6 T sugar (you can use less, remember adapting for your family is encouraged)
1/2 pound salt pork OR 2 ham hocks
1 onion, left whole
4 c water- boiling

Combine all ingredients in cooker. Cook on low 8 hours or until done.

Enjoy!

M

Friday, July 25, 2008

TGIF

This week has gone by fast, because it is Friday already. This week has gone by slow, it has been quiet; just me and the cat.

I look forward to my weekend.

I work Tuesday through Saturday, my official weekend is Sunday and Monday. Having worked Monday through Friday for so many years, Friday was a weekly milestone to reach. Now Friday is the light at the end of the tunnel, I know my end is near!

It is not that I do not like my job, it is not that I am expected to work harder than I want to, it is not anything other than.....

I like my home, and want to spend some time there. It is quiet here, and the rhythm is mine. I look around and see pictures of the kids, snippets of life from yesterday, it is comforting and at the same time a challenge. Maintain what is good and continue to improve tomorrow.

I am "quieting" my life.

I want to make things with my hands, instead of purchasing at a store. I want to have a yard that is attractive and functional. I want to be able to live in a manner that will allow me to enjoy everything that comes my way, when it comes my way. Not scheduled, or forgotten or put off and forgotten about.

I would suppose that my life is also aging, as I age. A great thing really. I am where I am comfortable and making my surrounding feel the same.

The next few days will be busy. My Honey comes home from work in Idaho today. There is a family yard sale today and tomorrow. I will help with set up and put away, but will actually be at work both of the sale days. I will need to get a couple of things at the market for.........Sunday is July Cafe. I am hoping for rhubarb preserves to be completed on Monday, then we start the week again.

Right now it is off to the kids to help set up the sale items.

Hope you have a great day.

M

Thursday, July 24, 2008

In a Hurry Chicken Curry

Last night I stayed on task and completed my list, with one more; I also made tapioca pudding in the crockpot. I priced the yard sale stuff and I made skillet "meatloaf" using 1 pound of lean ground beef and the other stuff listed in the freestyle process from yesterday. I discovered something rather important. I had thrown together the first skillet loaf a week ago in a quick attempt to feed us something for dinner homemade; instead of a burger and fries from takeout. We were tired, it was late and we were hungry. I only used bread cubes as a filler. Last night in an attempt to make a healthy version, I added 1/2 bread and 1/2 oats.

I do not like oats in my meat loaf.

The wonderful fiber in oatmeal that is healthy and helps to lower cholesterol, is gummy.

I realized last night that the texture of the first freestyle skillet loaf, was better. I don't like that gummy texture in my meatloaf.

I love oats, sometimes I will make oatmeal for dinner for myself. Oats with dried cranberries, walnut pieces and brown sugar. Yum. Oatmeal cookies, who can say no to that? Saucepan cake, it is the best. Oatmeal bread, wonderful toasted with jam. Oats used in crumble toppings, pile it on. But from now on, not in my meatloaf thank you.

I will take the yard sale stuff over to the kids house tonight. I priced it all low, don't care about the money really, just want the room back in the garage to store stuff worth keeping! Then back over early on Friday morning to help set it out, and return after work to help put it away. Repeat on Saturday. Haul any leftovers to a donation center.

Then it will be back to normal around here. I am looking forward to that. The house has been quiet, and I miss the interaction I receive from my Honey. We are creatures of habit and custom.

This weekend will be shed building and preserves making. And a hug or two!

It is time for something different. Food ruts are so easy to fall into, getting out is a bit more work. This recipe is handy, most of the ingredients are on hand and it has a great taste. This is great with rice, if using brown rice; start if before the curry and simple set it aside when finished cooking. It waits patiently.

Hurry up (chicken) Curry
skillet

3 - 4 chicken thighs
1 T oil

garlic salt and pepper
1 c chicken broth
1 T lemon juice
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 t curry powder
1/4 c raisins
1 small onion, sliced and ringed

1 red apple, diced - do not peel

1 T flour
1 t cornstarch
1/4 c water

1/4 c coarsely chopped salted peanuts

Cut chicken into 1 inch dice. Add oil to skillet, heat to medium. Add chicken and brown. Season with garlic salt and pepper. Add broth, lemon juice, soy sauce, curry, raisins and onion. Stir gently, cover and simmer, 45 minutes. Add diced apple, simmer additional 10 minutes. Combine water with flour and cornstarch, stir into skillet cooking until thicken. Garnish with the chopped peanuts. Serve with rice.

Serves 2 - 4

Enjoy!

M

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Meatloaf using only one pound of beef

I have a favorites list of blogs that I visit. I am at the same time impressed with what others do as much as relieved, that others have difficult/less productive days; like I seem to have. We each are directed by weather, time, availability and desire.

I have always been a gleaner. It is quick and has a small element of instant gratification. I love finding that little nugget of information. Something so simple, yet right there. Another affirmation that it is the little things.

I am slow to wake this morning, still on my first mug of coffee. Possibly because it is only me right now. I do not have to do anything for anyone. And truth be told, I prefer doing something for someone. It is purpose and direction. I find that busy equals productive. I will be glad when my Honey is home. There will be lots to do and we will get it done together.

I will stop for the grocery specials on the way home from work, make a quick meal and get the yard sale stuff priced, no excuses!

I have begun experimenting with a small meat loaf, cooked in a skillet. Not a real recipe, more of a freestyle process.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1 slice bread, or dried cubes or oatmeal
1/4 c onion dried or fresh
salt and pepper
herbs of choice
glop of steak sauce
milk
catsup or other flavored sauce if desired

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Form into a patty about 2 inches thick. Remember you will need to turn it over. Brown well on medium heat, turn over and add catsup or sauce of choice if desired. Cover pan and continue to cook on low until done. Tilt pan on edge of burner so grease will run away from the meatloaf. Cut into portions and serve.

Serves 3 -4

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Evening update: Not enough rhubarb

Who would of thought this would happen?

Our summer has been so chilly I did not have 2 pounds of ripe rhubarb between my two plants, how sad.

It is a good thing we are not growing more of our food, we would starve or at the very least; be thinner - much thinner!

I did cut the available rhubarb into the 1/2 inch dice the recipe calls for and I have 1 1/2 pounds. I am hoping I will have enough by the end of the week to add to it and make the jam. For now the diced rhubarb is safely sleeping in the freezer.

Hope your day was great.

M

Southern Peanut Pork Chops and a very quiet Tuesday

I adapt very well, however I adapt at a slower pace now. Our home is very quiet with my Honey away for the week. The evening seemed longer than usual with only myself and the cat roaming around.

Even the cat knew something was different. He never sleeps on the bed (well when I am at work He will get under the pillows and snooze until he hears a noise and then scat,down he goes!) but He came into the bedroom to check on things a couple of times.

Today starts another work week, and I hope to make marmalade tonight. The ingredient list is short, 2 grapefruits, 2 pounds of diced grapefruit and sugar. The recipe had a great tip for checking on the thickness of the product. Place a plate in the freezer, when you want/need to check to see if the finished product will be thick enough to spread, place a teaspoon of the hot jam on the plate and it will cool almost immediately. If it is not thick enough, return the plate to the freezer and continue cooking. Test again. Great idea. I have made jam before and even cooking for the maximum time when it was opened later in the season to enjoy, the jam was more like syrup.

Then after cleanup from the marmalade, get busy pricing stuff for the yard sale.

I have been thinking more about July Sunday Cafe.

I think I will do a pulled pork for sandwiches using a crockpot.
In addition since we have some non-pork eaters in our group, a pounded chicken breast pan grilled with honey mustard.
Homemade rolls
Black eyed peas with red wine vinegar and bacon
vegetable tray with humus, cheese spread and assorted vegetables
Tossed salad
Saucepan Oatmeal cake


I had originally wanted to smoke a seasoned tri tip roast. But with the shed construction in the back yard, the grill and smoker are knee deep behind all of the stuff form the dismantled shed. So maybe in August.

Some days you need a quickly prepared dish. This one will work. You quickly brown the pork chops, add the sauce ingredients, then the flavoring vegetables and let is simmer. At the same time brown rice can be cooked to be served along side. The combination of pork and peanut is delicious.

Southern Peanut Pork Chops

4-6 pork chops
garlic salt and pepper
cooking oil or pan spray
1 c water
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/3 c peanut butter
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 small onion, sliced and ringed

In a large prepared skillet, add chops in a single layer and season with the garlic salt. Brown chops over medium heat until golden brown, turn and repeat for other side. Remove chops to a plate, stir water, peanut butter and soup into drippings. Cook over medium heat scrapping up the brown bits and sauce is smooth. Add the seasoning vegetables then the chops, spooning some of the sauce over the chops. Cover and simmer 45 - 50 minutes until tender and done.

Serves 4 - 6

Enjoy!

M

Monday, July 21, 2008

update: all in all a busy day

Where to begin, worked on yard sale pile o stuff, played with granddaughter, and oh yeah I won! I learned this morning that I won a new crockpot. Yes I am a winner.....

I have about 30 or so blogs that I visit, not every blog every day but regularly. I entered a give a way at A year of crockpotting. I was one of the lucky random.org winners.

This is a new cook and take it with you (has clamps to keep the lid on and the contents in) crockpot. She, Stephanie of A year of crockpotting; was a guest on the Rachel Ray show. They arranged for her to give away to her blog readers 10 of the new crockpots.

Ta Dahhh! It is the little things, don't you think?

Hope your day went well, and I could not help but notice this is my 75 blog entry. 100 is not that far way.

M

Teriyaki Chicken Wings!

We are going to have a 3 (or more if one of the kids has invited a friends family to join in the fun) yard sale. Today I am going through all of the boxes and such in the garage to get it all ready. It is as much a relief to get rid of the stuff as it is to make any money! I do have a nice pair of living room chairs to sell, those I do hope to get a little bit of money from. The rest, who knows. Maybe enough "jingle" to get a new pair of jeans. A body can never have too many jeans.

I have to work each of the days of the sale, but I can go over early and help with the set up and then again in the evening to get it all put away.

My Honey just left for a week out of town, his job assignment this week is in Idaho. The week will go quickly and then it will be the weekend again. With the weekend comes July Sunday Cafe. Yesterday was spent with oil change, car wash, and clothes being readied for packing. Not exactly the jam making I had originally planned, but I can do that early morning before work.

Before we know it summer will be gone. The shed is progressing nicely. It will sit in wait until His return. Then we begin on the fence. By the end of the fence, it will be getting cold outside and we will be ready for a break.

With the rebuilding of the bookshelf, I sit here blogging and to my left is the cookbooks. Rather a vivid reminder of cooking better for us and sharing it here. I need to get busy getting busy regarding July Cafe menu.

Here is a delicious summer time recipe. It originally calls for oven baking, but you could certainly grill the meat instead.

Teriyaki Wings

350 degrees or grill

12 - 15 chicken wings, separated saving the tips for stock or another use
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c sherry
1/3 c water
1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 t ginger (dry)
1/4 t pepper
2 green onions, sliced thinly

Combine all ingredients except chicken. Add chicken pieces, mix well. Refrigerate over night (you can let them sit longer). Drain chicken. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Cover loosely with foil. Bake 350 degrees 30 minutes. Crisp under the broiler or on a grill if desired.

Serves 6 as a starter

Enjoy!

M

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saucepan Oatmeal Cake

Always have, even when I did not know it.

Sounds funny to say, but we tend to grow into ourselves as we age and experience the world and how we might fit in. As I grew into myself, I automatically let the natural ways that are within me, to come forward.

I set an alarm (set at such a low sound no one can hear it) but I really do not need an alarm, it is my natural way to awaken between 4:45 and 5:15 each morning. Yes the cat is there for his share of tuna and an opened door so he can go outside if he chooses or just stand in the door way making up his mind. But the cat is quiet also, I like that about cats. The birds outside are much louder, I like that about birds. Coffee is set up and waiting for a switch to be flipped, the newspaper is about to be dropped on the stoop, and the quiet is there, waiting to be enjoyed.

The quiet allows my brain to relax as well as generate good thoughts and ideas. The quiet time allows all of my unseen, inside smiles to come out, ready for a new day.

Life is so busy.

There is a job worked to pay for life. Chores to be done so life is comfortable. Purchases needed to sustain life. And it repeats over and over each and everyday. Therefore it is important to relax the mind.

I can get cranky if I do not relax and let the unseen smiles come out to play.

Today is my Friday, and I will be back to a regular schedule next week. I am hoping to be a better cook and companion. My Honey has been great, pitching in and just being Him. Thanks.

I am excited to make the Rhubarb and red grapefruit marmalade. And last night as I got to tour the new shed and the progress being made, I could not help but notice the rhubarb growing. I know I have been on a rhubarb rut, it is about all I want to cook right now. I think it is because it is the only thing growing!

This is really good. It is easy, quick and keeps well. This is a great wooden spoon recipe, no mixer is needed.

Saucepan Oatmeal cake
350 degrees

1 1/2 water
1 c oats
1/2 c butter

2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

1 1/2 c flour
1 t salt
1 1/2 t soda

1 c diced dates
1 c chopped walnuts (pecans are also good)
1 c chocolate chips
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon


In a medium saucepan bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in oats and butter. Let cool until just warm to the touch. Add eggs 1 at a time beat well after each. Stir in sugar and vanilla. In a medium bowl mix flour with salt and soda, stir well to combine. Add dry ingredients to saucepan and beat well. Pour batter into prepared 9X13 pan.

Sprinkle the dates, nuts and chocolate chips evenly over the top of the batter. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl, crumble evenly over the top.

Bake 35 minutes or until tests done.

Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 16 - 24

Enjoy!

M

Friday, July 18, 2008

Long time, no blog talk

My, my what a week. I have been busy being busy it seems, because I do not see a pile of anything I have accomplished or a list with chores crossed off. I did make the candied ginger, and it did turn out good. It is carefully bagged and in the spice drawer waiting to be used. The rhubarb is growing, but truthfully that took no effort on my part. And I have grapefruits in the vegetable drawer in the fridge so they do not mold from the warm weather. I hope to make the rhubarb red grapefruit marmalade this weekend. It was not a lot of work to purchase the grapefruits and place them in the vegetable drawer.

My Honey has been busy, He has almost 1/2 of the new shed built. It will be so nice. We found 4 narrow windows to put in the front wall to offer lots of natural light, important because it has no electricity. He is a wonderful builder, and we will have a shed to be proud of. I am more into recycling than He, but He has been a good sport about incorporating as much recycled materials as is possible. The windows are an example, they were free on Craigslist, so they only "cost" the gas to go and get them. The floor support cross beams in the shed are the 2X6s from the deck that He took down/apart to make room for the Potager.

I have worked on resumes and job applications, had a couple of other appointments that have taken some time, and I got to spend all day Monday with my granddaughter, ( aka Shorty McShort) so maybe that is why not much else has gotten done.

Soon it will be time for July Sunday Cafe. I have given that some thought. My Daughter in Law, Janelle sent a link for some wonderful looking cheese rolls. I thought right away that I would make them. Love love love homemade rolls with dinner. I had thoughts of a savory spice rubbed, and smoke roasted Tri Tip roast for dinner.

I am getting fairly hungry for something home baked. Maybe some oatmeal cookies with cranberries, chocolate chips and walnuts added. Or some brownies "reeses" style with cooked peanut butter filling in them. Or a mixed berry pie. I actually haven't baked since June Sunday Cafe, for pete's sake! I guess it is a good thing this Sunday Cafe is held each month, or we might never have home baked desserts again.

Here is the candied ginger recipe I spoke of. It is good to have on hand to flavor gingerbread or cookies. It can actually be chopped up and used where ever you want a spicy ginger flavor, including the recipes in the Small batch Preserves cookbook.

Candied Ginger - The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving

1 c thinly sliced peeled gingerroot
cold water
1/4 c water
1/2 c sugar

additional sugar

Place ginger in small sauce pan, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and cover. Boil gently 15 minutes. Drain and repeat process with fresh cold water.

Combine the drained ginger, the 1/4 c cold water and 1/2 c sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat once boiling and boil gently until water has evaporated completely, about 30 minutes. Watch carefully near the end, you do not want the syrup to brown.

Put extra sugar (about 1/4 inch thick) in a flat dish. Remove a few pieces of ginger with a fork and toss them in the sugar to coat both sides. Place the coated ginger on a cooling rack set on a baking sheet. Repeat until all of the slices of ginger have been coated with sugar.

Dry in a 200 degree oven for 1 hour our until ginger is dry and no longer feels sticky. Let stand at room temperature for 1 day to finish drying.

Place slices in an airtight container and store in a cool dry area.

Makes 1 cup

Enjoy!

M

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Update on the ginger

It looks great. It is pretty and looks professionally manufactured.

I am so happy, this helps me feel that I am getting back on track, well cooking wise anyway.

Gosh the days just seem to get shorter and shorter as I get older, hey wait a minute. My Mom said this would happen.

M

The smell of ginger is in the air

This morning I am making candied/preserved ginger slices. Many of the recipes I want to make in the Small Batch Preserving book call for candied ginger. In addition the book lists a recipe to make that very same needed ingredient, how convenient!

I must confess I tried this yesterday morning while trying to do something else at the same time, decided to improvise during the final step, and it was ruined. Will I ever learn?!!!

Yesterday was a banner day for small problems. The night before the neighbors were having a party to celebrate something, but after several hours it got louder and louder. We finally had to call for a little assistance from law enforcement to get thing back to a serene and sleep able level at 3 am. However the confusion was increased when we heard a loud crash. Not sure if it was inside the house or outside the house with all the noise from the party. After some investigation we discovered that the book case that has been overloaded for far too long, finally gave in to the weight it carried and caved in; sending noise and books everywhere. So it is fairly easy to see why the first batch of candied ginger did not go well. Confusion and not enough sleep from the night before, along with trying to do something else at the same time is a certain recipe for failure.

Last night after dinner was spent rebuilding and reinforcing the bookshelf and resetting the books. As it turns out they are cookbooks, where did I get so many. I mean I know I bought them, and I am fairly certain I will buy more, but I may need another bookshelf!

The candied ginger is real easy, peel and slice ginger, simmer in water 15 minutes, drain and repeat. Drain again and cover with a syrup of 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer and let if simmer in the syrup until most is gone, about 30 minutes. Drain, roll in sugar then dry in a 200 degree over about an hour. Store in a cool dry place.

The ginger is a needed ingredient for two of the rhubarb relishes I want to make from the book. I love spicy relish on roasted simple meats. Poultry and pork always take well (need) relish and it is go good. I have rhubarb to cut and use, I hope it keeps coming. I have many many recipes to use rhubarb in and not enough rhubarb to make them all.

There is much to do, again. We are getting ready for a family yard sale, so that is my prompt to scrutinize what we actually need and get organized with the rest. In addition my Honey is building a new storage shed in the back yard and a good neighbor fence comes next. We have had a late start to summer here in Vancouver, but with July ending, it is time to get things done.

Tomorrow if things go well this morning I will post the recipe for the ginger. Wish me luck, I seem to need it here lately!!

Enjoy your day.

M

Friday, July 11, 2008

No Bake Drop Cookies

The celebration on the 4th of July resulted in a 3 day weekend.

BUT there is always a price to be paid!

This week to make up, I have a 6 day stretch. Ooh my gosh.

I use to work a 6 day week regularly, but I truly do not want to (anymore) and I have arranged my life financially to not have to. Yes like every other household we could use the extra cash, but like every other family the time at home has so much more value.

Also I picked up a stomach bug, and have been a bit "off". Thankfully my Honey has picked up the slack, and helped with dinner cooking and housekeeping. He has also been working on building a new storage shed in the backyard this week, He is quite a guy! Together we are frugal in nature, and much of the support structure for the new shed is recycled from the deck that was dismantled. There is also a new fence to build, and lawn to try to improve, and roses to move, then berries to move to the previous rose garden area and of course the list never stops because we have a home to keep and a home is ever changing; just like the people that live there.

Sunday will be a trip to the dump, for the materials too worn out to reuse or to chemically treated to burn in the woodstove this winter. Then we will stop for plywood and siding for the shed.

With so much to get done, there will be grab and go meals. These cookies are wonderful and will fill the empty areas until better meal times come back around.

Sunday Cafe no bakes

Have the dry ingredients measured and ready to go, after cooking the cocoa mixture the rest of the process goes quickly!

2 c sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c milk
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa

1/2 c peanut butter
1 t vanilla
dash salt

3 c quick oats - I usually use old fashioned oats, but the quick ones are best here!
1 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c coconut
2 c mini marshmallows

In a large pan combine the sugar, butter milk and cocoa. Heat stirring often over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Continue cooking 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in peanut butter, vanilla and salt.

Stir in the oats and walnuts, then the marshmallows.

Drop by teaspoons onto waxed paper to cook, work quickly the mixture sets up fast.

Let cool to set the cookies.

Makes 2 - 3 doz

Enjoy!

M

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The choir begins at 4:45

Each morning I wake up to a wonderful choir of birds singing. It starts at 4:45 and lasts about 30 minutes. Our yard and the surrounding yards are home to 30 or 40 evergreen trees. They are tall, large and old. They also offer home and protection to the birds. It is a very sweet sound, a sound that one would expect to hear camping. I enjoy it each day, right here in my own home. In my own bed actually, how spoiled is that?

We are returning to our usual weather high of mid 80's. It has been much warmer and I like the return to "normal" because the air conditioner at work will work less, and I will be more comfortable. Where I stand and work, the duct is directly overhead and I get blasted. Each customer remarks how "wonderful it is in here" and I am freezing! Goofy world.

Speaking of hot weather, the poor tomatoes were neglected in the backyard. I have a terrible farming style, I incorporate the drought or flood method of watering. The tomatoes were in a drought stage, will I ever learn? Do I have too much to do? Do I simply forget? Or do I have the beginnings of memory problems? Dear God not the last one, please!

I have been amazed at the renewed interest in homemade granola. Such a great food, and so easy to individualize for your family. I have made this many times. It is a great beginning recipe, add what you like, eliminate what you do not like.

Sunday Cafe Granola
350 degrees

6 c old fashioned oats
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c coconut
1/2 c wheat germ
1/2 c sesame seeds
1/2 c slivered almonds

1/2 c water
1/4 c oil
2 t vanilla

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix well. In a small bowl combine the water, oil and vanilla. Drizzle over the oat mixture, tossing gently mix wet into dry. Pour mixture into 2 prepared 9X13 pans. Bake 25 minutes, stir well. Lower heat to 325, bake 20 minutes, stir well. Turn off oven and let granola complete the drying process 10 - 15 minutes keep watch to prevent over browning. Remove from oven and let cool completely on counter, stirring once or twice to prevent large clumps.

If you like raisins or dried cranberries in your granola add them at this point. Store in a large lidded jar or ziploc bag. Yield is 8 cups before adding dried fruit.

Here are some suggestions for additional ingredients:
millers bran
chocolate chips (the mini size are great here)
snipped dried fruit, apricots or plums
bran cereal, added after the baking process
walnuts

Enjoy!

M

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Grandmother's Rhubarb Cake, It must be time for cake

"Cake could help with world peace.", she said reading from the headline!


Not really, but seriously; who can stay made and plan their next attack with a mouthful of cake cooked just for them?


See, just like I thought.

A warm from the oven cake, with a hint of tartness that is bathed in a slow river of melting vanilla ice cream or a buttery glaze. 


Gosh think of the billions we could save on our military budget.

And when you lack inspiration; you can always make cake. Why you ask, because dessert is never a wrong choice.


Sometime dessert is the only choice. 


Like when you want to have dinner and a movie for the evening out. But there is not room for dessert after eating your dinner. Why not just have dessert and a movie. You want the dessert, however you feel compelled to eat dinner first, and run out of room. Why put yourself through that, simply have dessert and a movie. It is what you REALLY want, so go ahead....indulge. You can eat your veggies tomorrow.


I have a fondness for rhubarb. Maybe it is my grandmother. She could make anything taste wonderful. She had that kind of honest cheer in her. Where you take what you have, do your best with it, and enjoy the results with your loved ones. I think of her often, especially when my inspiration runs dry. I do not remember hers doing that. Oh I am sure she had her moments, but they never showed. She was a wonderful Grandmother. Never afraid, or too timid to try. I am still growing up to be like her.

This cake is in her honor. It is the type of dessert she would make. 


Berteen's Rhubarb cake
350 degrees

1/2 c butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar, please do not use dark brown sugar, the flavor will be too strong
1 egg
1 t vanilla

1 t baking soda
2 c flour
1 c buttermilk

2 c diced rhubarb

1/4 c sugar
1 t cinnamon

In large mixer bowl cream together butter and brown sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. In medium size bowl, stir together the flour and soda. Beat 1/2 the flour mixture into the creamed butter, then 1/2 the buttermilk. Beat well after each addition. Repeat. Stir in diced rhubarb. Spread batter into a prepared 9X13 inch pan. Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over batter. Bake 35-40 minutes or until tests done. Cool on rack. Serve warm with ice cream, or cool with a homemade custard sauce.

Serves 16-20

As always thanks for stopping by. 

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Ice Cream Social Frock Giveaway!!!!

Ice Cream Social Frock Giveaway!!!!

Per the strong request of my DIL, you must go to this giveaway. I am learning (slowly) how to make a link and how to be a part of this wonderful blogging community.

But of course I want the dress for our granddaughter, she would look so wonderful in it!

M

I think I am missing an ingredient

I have searched the pantry and all of the kitchen shelves and it is not there, inspiration seems to be missing from my ingredients/pantry list.

I have no idea why, because I actually enjoy cooking. I also keep buying cookbooks and talking about food and even daydream about what to cook. But alas the missing ingredient may hold a secret to the problem. I could blame the mundane weather, the poor quality strawberries (in our area) or the fact that it is only 2 of us to cook for. But life is life and one must make life work, so blaming is really a waste of time and energy. No I simply must kick myself in the rear and tell myself to get busy!

I have been remiss about posting, possibly because of the missing ingredient. After all if you are not cooking, how do you write a blogpost about what you cooked? Impossible I tell you. I have searched various blogs for interesting tidbits to inspire, and I did find a few. I have even been lazy about general kitchen upkeep chores, such as making another batch of homemade biscuit mix. My recipe for the All Purpose Baking mix lay on the table for 3 day before I got it done this morning. Lazy I tell you!

I know this is not a fatal disease, and there are possibly more folks out there that have suffered from this AND recovered. I know I will recover, however I am seeking a fast cure! Do you have one?

I have been fairly creative with leftovers however. Remember the French style potato salad made in the pressure cooker from the Dummies book? Well as a salad it was OK, but boring. But as fried potatoes it was great!!! I diced one slice of bacon, and fried it out. Removed bacon from drippings to drain on a paper towel. Discarded 1/2 of the fat left in the pan, added the salad potatoes after I had sliced them (include the green onions and parsley, also the salad is very dry, so do not worry about the dressing because there is not much) I browned the potatoes, turned them over and added the bacon and a sprinkle of garlic salt. Cover with a lid and let the other side brown. They were great!

I drained a quart of vanilla yogurt and used it in place of a second block of cream cheese in a cheese cake recipe I found on another blog. The poor yogurt was mistakenly put in the freezer by someone that shall remain innocent, because it was thought that it was frozen yogurt, and after that it actually was. The texture was a bit strange when thawed, but hey; frugal is as frugal does. So this morning there is a cheesecake to enjoy.

So my faithful readers (all 2 of you and I thank you!) I hope to feel better soon, and go gangbusters.

M

Friday, July 4, 2008

The day is starting quiet

I love mornings like this, the weather is cool and I do not have to go to work! I get to sit here and enjoy my coffee then play in the dirt. I have the next 3 days in a row off, wonderful; simply wonderful.

Oh I have lots planned, there are weeds to pull and jam to make and Rhubarb compote with strawberries to ponder. I have been making this for years and of course there is not a recipe, it is truly freestyle. But this year I will make notes and then post the process here. My Daughter loves it as much as I do. In fact she will get a large bowl of it delivered to her today. A large purple bowl to be precise, she loves purple and I could not resist picking up the bowl at the store for the purpose of delivering the goods!

Our neighborhood has been loud with fireworks each night, but for the most part everybody has observed the 11pm ending time rule. I am not a big fan of fireworks, but it is not only my holiday! Our city hosts a large show each year, billed as the largest display west of the Mississippi, and I have gone a few times. But gosh the crowds are huge and tonight we will stay home and just be homebodies!

Today though there is the list of what I want to do, and of course the list of what I must do.

There is the standard housekeeping to be done, and the kitchen cupboards need a little restocking. Probably some laundry and vacuuming, and sweeping.

Then I get to move on to the fun stuff, cooking and jamming. I hope my 2 rhubarb plants produce enough fruit to keep me supplied. There are two recipes for preserves that I hope to make this year, Rhubarb and grapefruit jam and Raspberry Rhubarb preserves.

My backyard is trouble however. We have lots of large trees and therefore the sun needed to grown a good garden is lacking. But I am determined to have a kitchen garden, it does not matter so much in how much I grow, simply that I be able to grow something. I think that a "need" is in me to grow and putter in the dirt. Right now the plan is to move the berries to the south side of the house. We will do this in the fall after the growing season. There are roses in that spot right now, and they will also have to be moved. But that will be nice, they will get the attention they need in another area. The roses will produce flowers for the table and I won't forget about them. The berries will be happy left alone with only water and sunshine.

Have a great and happy 4th!

M

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Well yes, I did buy another cook book

I felt great joy to find ...the complete book of Small Batch Preserving. I love jams and jellies, pickles, relish, chutney, mustards and the list continues. Especially homemade. Homemade is usually more than the standard one fruit jam, same old pickle, tried and true relish.

It is where there are eclectic flavor combinations, like red grapefruit and raspberry preserves. Pear butter sweetened with orange and cardamom. Small batches of 6 half pints, just right for the two of us, and a few jars for tuck in gifts. A recipe that can be made and cleaned up on a Sunday morning.

I want to make the grapefruit and raspberry recipe this year, as soon as berries come off the vine; ripe and ready! And the Sun dried tomato mustard.

No recipe today, just good news about my "find".

Hope your day was great!

M

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Papa's brownie ice cream sandwiches

In preparation for June Sunday Cafe, my Honey decided he wanted to make a dessert.

There has never been a shortage of food in my home. Actually I have a goal of being more organized and having less waste take place. But dessert, now that is different, for some reason it never goes to waste and therefore the more the better.

I had already been asked by my Daughter in Law to make the Rhubarb strawberry crumble pie. My daughter had already said she would make an ice cream cake in celebration of the anniversary. So when my Honey started talking about brownie ice cream sandwiches, there seemed no reason to discuss the previously known about desserts.

His idea was to make brownies in the waffle iron (an old term, because they are now called a waffle maker). Then slice ice cream into slices and sandwich the two together. Since the waffle iron is round, a round gallon of vanilla ice cream was to be purchased.

While I was at work on Saturday, he made brownie waffles, just to make sure they would cook properly. That night we had sandwiches to make sure it worked as a dessert. I actually had to have two sandwiches in my pursuit of a proper test rating.

Then Sunday morning, the work began. Brownies were made and stacked carefully on a plate and covered with plastic wrap to keep them fresh. After dinner the ice cream was sliced and the assembly began. It worked real well to assemble the sandwiches and then return them to the freezer for storage. They could be made ahead and kept frozen for those times only an ice cream sandwich will do!

Papa's brownie ice cream sandwiches
Waffle iron

1 Grandfather
1 waffle iron
1 box brownie mix (and ingredients listed on box)
1 gallon ice cream in a shape that matches your waffle iron

Preheat the waffle iron to medium. Prepare the brownie mix as directed on box. Pour or ladle about 1/2-3/4 c of the batter into the prepared iron, spreading to edge if needed. Cook until done, but not dry. Carefully remove (they are tender) and set aside to cool.

Cut ice cream into 1 inch slices, quarter the slices and sandwich between the quarters of brownie. pile on a serving platter, cover with plastic wrap and return to the freezer until serving time.

Makes about 12 - 16 depending on the size of the iron and how many were tested along the way.

Enjoy!

M