Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gathering up the goods

This morning I am gathering up a few recipes that I plan to make and then get busy in the kitchen. I visit other food blogs and a couple of non food blogs, some I visit daily some a couple of times a week or so; depending upon the frequency of postings. A couple of the food blogs I visit will be a part of Sunday Cafe.

I am making the Cannelli Dip from, everybody likes sandwiches. Also.....Favorite Peanut Dipping Sauce from, the perfect pantry. Each of these offer variety and will be a part of the anit-pasta (vegetable) tray. It is not a true anti-pasta, but since it is not pasta, we shall refer to it as such.

Each blog is a reflection of the writer. Each provides a different view of cooking or the world. Even if I do not cook the recipe offered that day, I am always motivated to continue on my own and try new things.

Currently the house and neighborhood is quiet. The rest of the world is still asleep, it is Saturday and most are happy for the extra time available to sleep in. This is my time, to think or do nothing at all. Let my mind unfold with all that I have processed the day before, and begin again.

I have some kitchen chores to get done before I get cooking and make too much noise. I have 4 zucchini from my daughter to shred and freeze, 2 heads of garlic to oven roast for Sunday, ginger root to blanch twice and then simmer in syrup, and the refrigerator freezer top to organize and maybe cull a couple of things that need to go! After that and another cup of coffee, beware the noise will increase. Since I have machine work that needs to be done....

2 additional batches of cookie dough to make and freeze
a large carton of peeled garlic (thanks Costco) to chop and freeze into "garlic logs"
banana bread to bake
white bean dip to process
pizza dough to make

Outside my Honey is building a fence and cutting wood for winter use. I think in the end, He will make more noise, but not until he gets up!

Have a great day!

M

Friday, August 29, 2008

Lots to do, looking forward to it all and a GIVEAWAY!

This blog has turned out to be rather like a diary.

A little bit confession, a little bit actuality and a little bit dreamland.

And a lot of fun. I use it in may ways as well. To document and hold my recipes. To "tell" on myself in order to keep myself going forward with a project. To dream out loud.

The morning is starting out foggy, but it is Friday and my Friday as well! I get a rare 3 day weekend. There is lots to do and I am looking forward to getting it all done. I have food to prepare, a gift to wrap (and another one to purchase on the 'net, could not be found locally) and the whole weekend to look forward to. Then there is the house to clean and the yard to tidy. With summer closing and school opening, it is another turn in the year. September is time to get things organized for fall and winter, including gift making for the holidays.

On my lunch break yesterday, I looked at used books at the local Goodwill retail store. There were several there for making your Christmas merry. But nothing new was among the page after page of photos. So they were left behind on the shelf, when I returned to work at break end. Food as gifts is easy, open the books you already own and look for something that the person receiving does not have the time or skill to make. Make that as a gift.

Food gifts do not have to be fancy, they just have to mean something.

Many of the books on Christmas use a lot of fancy and expensive supplies to wrap an otherwise inexpensive gift. Of course the end result is a wonderful looking gift, but use your available funds to make a better gift and present is simply with a ribbon and heartfelt note of cheer. Make it a real old fashioned Christmas, give your best presented simply with love and honor.

Maybe it is the fog this morning that got me thinking about the holidays, but I have always loved Christmas. Not the glitz, but the love and coming together of one's family. We have never lived an excessive lifestyle. Christmas has always been about family and many time homemade gifts, with all gifts wrapped simply. This year again, we will continue with the past.

I have been bless this year with a happy healthy family. I have also won a contest from another blog. It was fun and exciting at the same time. My Daughter in Law has a pay it forward offering on her blog each time she wins on another blog. A nice tradition. So here goes..............


Drop me a line and you may be the winner of my pay if forward give away!

Tell your neighbors, tell your friends, tell anyone that has a computer about visiting here and leaving a note. All entries will be used to select the winner. Come on now, spread the word! The winner will receive 3 cookbooks from my collection, including The Old Farmers Almanac-Best Home baking and 2 others that will be a surprise.

Have a great day!

M

Saturday, August 23, 2008

AKA, neglectful but trying!

Just got back into the house from hoeing the potager. Such a fancy word for my little weed patch!
That is one rocky, hard packed piece of land!

Of course it is still in the dreaming stage and the only plants are the 3 different berries (rasp, blue and marion) that were already here along with the rhubarb. I have used my late start as a lesson in learning the sun pattern in the yard and how poor the soil is. I am sure it has nutrients, but it is so hard and full of rocks. It is apparent that I will need to work all winter long to feed and lighten up the soil.

My first expenditure will be a worm farm, where I can get rid of kitchen scraps and get compost and fix the soil at the same time.

I have found many to make, they all looked grand and even seemed by design to function very well. My son bless him, even in his travels on the web; sent me links for composters. And then one on Craigslist (love Craigslist!) sold by a little worm farm here locally. It is only $69.00 and looks like that is the one. It has 3 tiers and you can even harvest the "tea". Dilute it with water and liquid fertilizer as needed.

When fall comes I will replant the rhubarb in a sunnier spot. Then in spring when the garden stores are open again, purchase another 2 rhubarb plants to go with what I have. I really do love rhubarb and just do not get enough with only 2 plants. I will also replant the blueberries to a sunnier spot, and just like the rhubarb add a couple more bushes to provide enough berries to eat fresh and some for the freezer.

Until then, I will hoe a couple times a week, and remove the rocks that are turned to the surface. Where they will be placed I do not know, anyone want some gravel? Most will be placed under the roddies, they will help keep the moisture in the ground and seems like a good place to hide them to me. Then if I ever need rocks for a project I will have them.

For now it is off to work. I did find that I have enough rhubarb to make something with. But I will need to make more candied ginger if I am going to make the chutney.

Have a great day!

M

Friday, August 22, 2008

Surprise! Even old cooks have failures.....

I was putting together the delicious chicken with hoisin sauce recipe for our dinner tonight (since we really had no dinner last night, each of working 12 hour days) so that we would not have a repeat of last nights dinner. I hate a repeat of a no dinner, dinner. We had buttered toast, for Pete's sake!!!!!

Any way back to the failure.

The chicken recipe calls for ginger, and I was going to chop up some of the candied ginger I made earlier to use in some of the Small Batch Preserving recipes. Remember I talked about it, blogged about it and otherwise annoyed everyone about it, as a cook will do when something turns out good. Oh it turned out so beautiful, looked professionally done; made me feel proud.

Well it molded. Molded!

Drats, it seemed dry enough. It was hard to the touch, like dried fruit is suppose to be. But lurking under the sugar and crusty coating was moisture. Moisture that had had its way with the ginger. MOLD. Gray mold that is ugly and aggressive and destructive.

We are still having the chicken for dinner, it will be lacking a bit of ginger flavor. And I will make another batch of the candied ginger, but this time I will actually dry it in my food dryer. And then I will store it in the freezer. Safe from the enemy of mold.

Always something new at the Sunday Cafe, only sometimes you just can't eat it! Such is life.

Hope your day is great.

M

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Nearing 100 and random thoughts

I wish to do something special for the 100th post. Don't know what exactly, just something a little bit better. A benchmark, if you will. But for now.....

Our weather has settle down into rain. A gentle rain that is not bothersome. I for one have never let the weather stop me from doing something I wanted to do, but cannot say the same for gumption. Some days I lack gumption. Or maybe it is the need to have a slow day, and I look upon my need to not complete anything as lazy. Forgetting that I usually agree with those that say they needed a slow day for themselves, addressing the importance of restocking, restoring and regarding themselves.

I have a wind chime in the front yard that has a dull but pleasing sound. I have another wind chime in the back yard that has a sweeter lighter sound. Each chime is built with the same idea and with the desired result, to make noise. But they are different, also. The front yard chime is made of heavier materials and therefore takes more wind motion to chime. The back yard chime is dainty and requires very little wind motion to sound off. The chimes are made of different materials, require different wind strengths to operate and make different sounds. And they are the same, each is a wind chime.

People are like that, built different, sound different but are essentially the same. Some of us are just like the Everready Bunny, go go go. A quick recharge and then go go go again. Some of us are not, we go go go, but need a day of no go! And that is OK!

Here is an eclectic list of things I am thinking about, working on and dreaming up:

*I am working on a few more recipes to use the All Purpose Baking Mix. Because even on those days I don't want to do a lot, I still want to make food that is a joy to eat. Also I prefer homemade mixes because I can control the ingredients. And a wise cook can never have too many easy recipes on hand, that way you can have a day of go go go that is purely fun.

Some of my ideas:

A grab and go breakfast muffin
Pineapple upside down cake
Pumpkin dessert
Overnight coffee cake

Basic food, quickly made and enjoyable. The other idea for these was that the ingredients would be available year round. I love seasonally enjoyed dishes, but some things like pineapple and pumpkin are available year round and in a shelf stable form. A couple of other ingredients I want to work with fresh are carrots and apples, most stores have a fairly good supply all year long.
This week in our own little kitchen we have been very very frugal. Lots of beans, soup and creative use of leftovers. It is great for the food budget, but does not leave a recipe to offer here.

*I have been keeping an eye on the Rhubarb and there should be enough to make either the Chutney or another batch of the Rhubarb Red Grapefruit jam. I would like both, however I believe I need to add a couple more Rhubarb plants to the back yard to get all the Rhubarb I would like to be able to cook with. I will go with the Chutney first and maybe squeeze out another jam batch later.

*I would like to get a worm composting system built and up working this fall. That way come spring I will have most of my worm routine in place and a source of enrichment for the potager.

*I am using up (frugal to the end) most of my commercial cleaners and turning to vinegar and soda. This is going well. I know that I might need to use some commercial cleaners, but if soda and vinegar will work, I will use them.

*Being very frugal in the kitchen, but I must work on frugal not equaling boring or repetitive.

*I would like to start making things for Christmas. I have the "stuff" I just need the gumption! Years ago I was quite the crafter, I have gotten away from that; and would like to return. Maybe I will start with making one small thing for each person and build from there.

*I have been real good about making my lunches, even my beverages. I would like to continue and not stray from the path I am on now. Have you ever started something and then abandoned it just when you had it down pat? Me too. I would like to end that, and stay the course; no matter what I am doing.

I hope you day is great,

M

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Formerly I did not like chicken legs

When you come from a large family as I did, you will find that by default there are only so many different pieces of chicken to choose from, even if your Mother cooks 2 chickens for dinner.

As I had previous stated my Dad always ate the breast meat, from both chickens.

That left only thighs, legs and wings.

The backs were usually coveted by my Grandmother if she was there, and that is because as she was growing up, in her family the "pickins" were fewer and that is all she had. So, true to her nature she learned to enjoy and then look forward to chicken backs. She also true to her nature, learned to cook them as she liked; so the meal was even more enjoyable.

Back to our own family chicken "pickins".

Lets us see, a Mother, a Sister, another Sister, a Brother and another Brother and I had 4 legs, 4 thighs and 4 wings to "pick" from. I usually tried to get the wings, because they were the next best white meat available. But with 3 younger siblings, Mom would assign the wings to them. Next I preferred the thighs over the legs. But with an older sister and a Mother that also preferred thighs (and by seniority, therefore got), that left only the legs.

Now I know that the legs taste about the same as the thighs, and I am fond of dark meat flavor.

But it was the veins that bothered me as a kid. I did not want to eat the veins!

It would make me queasy to see them, and I hated that.

Being a kid is not easy. So I ate less and less chicken as Sunday dinners were served. I love all the roast dinners, and spaghetti dinners and all other Sunday dinners, except the fried chicken dinners.

When I became a wife and mother, I never served chicken legs. If I cooked a fried chicken dinner, the legs would be used for soup. Now 45 years later, I had wonderful chicken legs for dinner. It all started with an early morning call.......

Hi, it's not too early to call is it?
No not at all, I am up at 5.
OK good, would you guys like to come over for air conditioning and dinner?
That sounds great, I am off at 6:30, we will probably be there at 7, is that OK?
Sure.
Great. See you then.
See you then.

With our hot weather our daughter in law was going to make dinner and have everyone over. It was wonderful! A beautiful salad, brown rice, zucchini pan fritters, chilled wine, a warm peach dessert with vanilla ice cream

and

the best chicken legs I have ever eaten. I looked for more on the serving platter and there were none.

My little girl "veins make me queasy" whine is now retired. Another grown up day?

I will have to invite her to share the recipe, because for now I have to get ready to go to work.

Enjoy you day!

M






Friday, August 15, 2008

Cranberry Mustard

Condiments, talking about condiments in the fridge. Personally I like to have a lot of condiments available. That is probably why there is:

5 mustards - Chinese hot, coney island style with tomato bits, regular yellow, honey and my homemade cranberry. We are actually a little shy on the mustards, I usually have dijon and coarse brown as well!

4 jams - raspberry, apricot, apple butter, strawberry

both mayonnaise and Miracle Whip ( low fat on the mayo, full fat on the MW) Although I am a Mayonnaise kind of gal, there is a place for MW in my kitchen. Beside my Honey is a Miracle Whip kind of guy!

2 salsas - hot red and milder green

6 pickles/olives/peppers - standard dill, sweet slices, okra, kalamata olives, green with pimento, sliced pepperincini, sliced sweet yellow peppers

2 relish - sweet and dill

Of course there is addition assorted other stuff in there also, catsup, chili sauce, oil packed dried tomatoes, salad dressings, oyster sauce, black bean garlic sauce, Thai curry paste and I am fairly certain a few other things that I have failed to list.

A refrigerator really cannot have too many condiments because, they keep a long time, they are usually a low cost investment (save salad dressing, my quest is to never purchase again and only use homemade, cause it is really easy) and they can transform a rather plain or even boring meal into something with so much more flavor. For instance......

A ham and swiss cheese sandwich on whole grain bread is good, but a ham and swiss cheese sandwich with sliced sweet yellow peppers and cranberry mustard on whole grain bread is better.

Chicken tenderloins rolled in panko and baked quickly is tasty, but chicken tenderloins dipped in a quick sauce of 1 part mayo or MW and 1 part milk, with a tablespoon of any other thing in your condiment bank stirred in for a fresh flavor, then rolled in panko; are better.

Homemade dinner rolls are always delicious, but homemade rolls that have chopped olives and minced parsley in the dough, are wonderful. Make a mild garlic and mustard compound butter and they are even better.

Variety is the spice of life, and condiments are that spice.

They are also fun to make. We devoured the rhubarb and red grapefruit jam. There are 4 jars on the pantry shelf, and they will be parceled out to last. I will make 2 batches next year.

Next on the list to make, is a rhubarb chutney, then dried apricot and honey preserves.

I have been making homemade cranberry mustard for ages. It is something I make each year and my son gets a jar. He loves it. It is a simple process because I do not start from scratch and make the mustard, I use Grey Poupon, it is tried and true.

Cranberry Mustard

1 c dried cranberries
1/4 c water
1 T honey
1 8 oz jar Grey Poupon mustard

Bring cranberries, water and honey to a simmer. Cover and set aside to cool and hydrate the berries.

Combine the berries and the mustard in a food processor bowl. Process until mustard is smooth and completely spreadable. Scrape into clean leftover jars, attach lids securely. Place in the back of your fridge to age at least a month, longer is better. Keeps forever.

Makes 2 jars, one to keep and one to give!

Enjoy your day!

M

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kitchen basics, roasted red peppers

When I was at Costco on Monday in addition to the coffee and butter (and lets be honest here, it is rare to not purchase more than 2 things in Costco, that is the joy of the place!) I strolled down the kitchen wares isle. I found a great grill pan. It is square and the grill ridges are just right. The ridges are not too high so the valleys are not so deep that they collect the juices of everything cooked and turn it into unmovable, unidentified food cement.

So I purchased one.

I have already used it, this morning to make "charred" red peppers. I love them. Simply place the peppers on the grill and let them char until the skin is burned and has burst. Then turn them to the other side and repeat. This will take 5 turns because a pepper is roughly square, or once the charring begins can be made to sit on the grill in a four sides kind of way. Then the top and then the bottom. By the time they are charred they will be hot! Remove the grill from the heat, let stand a few minutes and then simply drape a kitchen towel over everything and let the peppers smother in their own heat. This will loosen the skins somewhat and that will be a great help when it comes time to peel them.

Peeling peppers is an act of pure patience, for me anyway.

I want all the skin gone, and all of the seeds removed. But the simple process of peeling and seed removing is worth the end result.

Roasted peppers:

4 - 6 red peppers
1 grill pan OR use your outdoor BBQ grill
olive oil
salt
freshly ground pepper
balsamic vinegar

Roast the pepper well, this means they will be black and it is OK because most of that comes off with the skin and you want some of the blackened flavor in the peppers. Let them "smoother" and cool.
Peel, removing all of the skin and seeds. Slice into 1/4 inch strips. Toss in a bowl with, salt pepper and about 2 T oil and 1 T vinegar. Keep in the fridge for using.

These peppers are great by them selves as a salad. But you can do so much with them.

How to enjoy, like you really need these ideas! If you like peppers you will use them anywhere you can, but this is my blog and I get to yak on.......

Roasted red pepper vinegarette

About 1 roasted pepper (it will probably be about 1/2 c of your finished product)
1 clove garlic minced
1 thin slice of onion, minced
1/4 c vinegar - your choice
1/2 oil - your choice
1 t sugar or honey or maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

If you like chopping, chop everything! Chop chop chop. Add to a container with a screw top lid, add remaining ingredients. Secure top and shake. Let sit 30 minutes or so to marinade, then place in the refrigerator to chill and be on hand. Or use a blender and transfer to your lidded container.

Makes about 1 2/3 c dressing


Add a layer of red peppers to a sandwich, or anything else you are eating!

Red Pepper Compound butter

1/4 c roasted peppers
1/8 t garlic salt
1 cube butter, softened.

Mash, puree or chop the peppers, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Beat in the peppers and garlic salt. Refrigerate until serving.

Use to make garlic bread, serve with baked potatoes. Toss with cooked vegetables or small filled pasta.

Enjoy your day!

M

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

CousCous Salad, delicious and diffeent.

Evening update: This process has never been made with 1 c dried couscous before, the serving I had for lunch was good, very good actually, but I would do the following to the salad when making it.

But before anyone applauds my virtue, trust me I make up for it in grains. Of all kinds, bread, rice couscous and of course more bread. Then I am happy to move on to cookies, pie and cake.

In my ongoing quest of less waste, I made a couscous salad. It started out last week to simply use up a bit of leftover whole wheat couscous. I added a couple of roma tomatoes and 1/4 of an english cucumber. Some crumbled feta and then moistened it all with some bottled vinegarette. Put it in a container and called it "lunch", and left for work. At my meal break, I loved it. It was cool (not cold, it was in my lunch sack not the fridge) and crispy and satisfying. I knew I wanted to make it again.

Freestyle Couscous salad

1 c water
1 dash dried onion flakes
1 chicken bullion cube
1 c whole wheat couscous

Bring water, onion and cube to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover and remove from heat.

2 large tomatoes, diced 1/4 inch
1 english cucumber, diced 1/4 inch
4 dried apricot halves, minced, 6 halves not 4, the sweet was very nice.
1/4 c dried cranberries, chopped
3/4 - 1 c crumbled feta
1 bunch parsley, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 shredded carrot
bottled or homemade vinegarette, enough to moisten but not make "wet"

When the couscous is cool, stir in all of the remaining ingredients. Use enough dressing to moisten but not "wet" the salad. The cuke and tomato will offer some juices.

Garnish each serving with sliced green or kalamata olives or mild pickled peppers.

You could play around with the dried fruit or leave it out. You could play around with the dressing or use up what is in your fridge on your way to making your own as soon as your stock of purchased is gone You could add olives or pine nuts or toasted chopped walnuts. You could add tuna, or chicken or diced egg. You can freestyle this depending on what is in your fridge and what you like. YOU CAN MAKE IT YOURS. That is what cooking is all about.

I enjoy base recipes, you know the ones that allow you to make changes regarding what you like and what you have. They are really the way the previous generation cooked. It is how the family ate well and the kitchen budget was maintained. Every thing old becomes new again!

Enjoy your day!

M

Monday, August 11, 2008

What I got done

Got my Honey off to work at the coast, had morning coffee and then....

The sharpies are now in the kitchen.

The computer room is cleaned and organized. That was no small task. There were things in the garage that had to be move out to the newly finished shed, because they belonged there and I needed that space for stuff from the computer room that had accumulated in the computer room, with no other place to put it.

There are 20 bags of tri colored peppers in the freezer. Each bag is equal to 1 whole pepper. And the bags are labeled.

I baked the zucchini cake, it is delicious. We chose to bake in the oven, because we love walnuts. I usually put the walnuts on top of the batter so they have a chance to roast to a golden brown. It is delicious. I baked it last night and sent 3 wrapped squares of it with Honey.

I also got the marketing done for the week. Stocked up on a few things like butter and coffee from Costco.

I had some quiet time for me.

Went through old magazines to make sure I did not need a recipe from one of them, I did in fact keep about 20 recipes. Whether I actually need these recipes or will use them is yet to be seen.

Played freecell on the computer. Checked some blogs. Ate lunch. took a nap.

It was a nice day, a needed day. The right combination of accomplished tasks and quiet time. I usually spend Monday evenings with the granddaughter, we will see each other tomorrow.

Tomorrow starts a new work week.

Have a great day!

M

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Woke up to rain this morning

The morning started early, when the rain started. It will be a quiet weekend, and I for one will enjoy that. My Honey, bless him; went on cobweb patrol yesterday and did the dusting and vacuumed. That means I will be able to play in the kitchen and yard.

Yesterday morning I went to the "garden" a real stretch of the word, and picked the ripe berries and tomatoes. I ate them right there, I was barefoot also. Then I came in and had cereal and got ready for work.

Currently I feel very disconnected from the kitchen and the yard. I want to change that.

My current "must remember to do" list:

Bring the sharpies to the kitchen so they are handy to label food that will go into the freezer.
Keep a list on the side of the fridge, listing the bags. When they are used, mark them gone.
Keep an inventory list of the staples in the freezer, and again when used mark them gone.

Those 3 simple things should help a lot.

Of course there is the list of what I would like to do, but it is boring and really it is a glory list. In reality there is only what you actually do!

But here is my glory list:

I would like to make up cookie dough, get it scooped into balls and frozen on a sheet. Then transfered to freezer bags for a quick baking, 1 dozen at a time. I know I could just bake them all and freeze them. But baked cookies take up more room than the dough and I prefer fresh baked cookies. Not to mention that a full batch is too much for just the two of us.

I would like to get a few pre-measured bags ready. Homemade mixes if you will. Of things that the AP baking mix does not make. Then when you want to have that item, simply add the wet ingredients (list them on the bag along with the directions, you can reuse the bags) and bake away.

I would like to make the Rhubarb Chutney, using the candied ginger.

I would like to freeze peppers for use this winter. A tri-pepper blend like they sell at Trader Joes.

I would like to weed, not really; but it needs to be done.

I would like the lilac tree cut down. I know I love lilacs also, but it is in the way of the garden. It begins casting a shadow as soon as the sun is over the house. Also it is in the way of where we will be building a sitting area using pavers.

I would like to clean and organize the "computer room". It seems to be the spot where everything is placed until a better place can be found. PS, by me not by others.

I would like to go through my closets and get rid of the stuff that I would not wear again, even if I could fit into it. I think that is like ironing, a grown up reality.

I would like to go through the jewelry box, keep the real/good stuff and get rid of the rest. And the standing jewelry chest as well.

Wow, that is a lot of glory! Or baloney. I only have 2 days.

I also want to ride my bike with my Honey, have some quiet time and get the laundry done. And make this chocolate zucchini cake.

Hope your day is great!

M

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ironing and becoming a grown-up

I think I grew up today, finally.

You see I ironed a shirt.

My history of hating to iron is a long and twisted road, and not one of beauty I might add. I was taught to hate ironing. By a woman that surely hated it more than I was being taught to hate. My Mother, rest her late soul was the teacher.

Lets see a family of 7 (five kids and 2 adults) where one of the adults was over 6 feet tall and work "frisco" shirts and pants. And wash and wear "no iron" fabrics had not even been invented. The very length of the leg on those pants was longer than the ironing board itself! There I was 7, trying to iron the pants so my Dad could go to work, and it was hard; really hard. Just keeping them on the ironing board was a task of impossibility, and then to place the hot iron on the crease line to get a crease; without getting burned was hard to do. But it became my job to iron them when they were in the clothes basket too long and had become wrinkled, which was almost every time laundry was washed and dried.

AND ironing was always the price to be paid if I want to go somewhere. "Mom can I go to my friends house tomorrow after school to play?", "yes you can, just get your ironing done today" and a pattern was developed where Mom never ironed and it was now "mine".

When I was married I never wore out an iron or ironing board. As a matter of fact, I learned every trick in the book to get clothes out of the dryer or off the clothes line, folded or hung up so that ironing was almost NEVER needed. And I have managed to do this for the past 35 years. Oh sure I owned an iron and ironing board. Even got one for a wedding gift long long ago and gosh it was like new when I let someone borrow it some 20 years later, and just never asked for it back. When I later divorced and moved into my own home, I bought a new ironing board and to this day it is still in the plastic wrapper in the closet. It could be like new for 20 years, except today I grew up. And I ironed something and it felt OK, actually it was nice to see the fabric change from the warmth of the iron.

I have heard the prose of those that love to iron. How relaxing it is and the sense of accomplishment. I even remember the neighborhood ladies that "took in ironing" for a few dollars. Some of the ladies in my neighborhood gave themselves "permission" to watch their soap operas while ironing. But I was young and thought "Man I am never going to be that stupid!".

But today I grew up.

So tonight after the garbage and recycling cans are brought back from the curb, I will unwrap the ironing board; because I know there is room in the can for the wrapper. And I will ask my Honey to hang up the ironing board rack, where I can keep the board, the iron and all of the stuff in one handy place.

Just in case I have another grown-up day.


M

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Our Basic Beans, cook a pot of beans weekly

The bag contained cooked beans and ham for flavoring. I served it over brown rice and it was very good. A very nice meal. One we will have again.

I am now glad there are more flat frozen packages just like it. I plan on making up a batch of the basic beans with black beans and another with red beans. It is a great way to have more beans in our menu as well as have something that is as easy as heat and serve, when I get home.

I also learned something, although leftover white rice does not microwave well (I can never get it soft and hot in the microwave), brown rice does. I am not a big user of the microwave, but it is nice for a quick reheat. So I can cook up brown rice and serve it later if I want to. Or use it for a quick fried rice to use up leftovers.

But the beans were the star and I realized I should share the process. And it is a process rather than a recipe. You should cook the beans with your preferred method, stove top, pressure cooker or slow cooker. Beans are a little different for everyone. I had a hard time learning to cook beans.

Our Basic Beans

The day before take 1 pound pinto* beans, sort, rinse and then cover by double the water in a large bowl. Let sit on the counter, cover with a towel. Before beginning to cook the beans, drain, rinse well and drain again.

Soaked beans*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, minced
2 large Roma tomatoes, washed and cut in half. Do not peel, do not core.
1 large or 2 regular potatoes, washed and cut in half. Do not peel.
1 or 2 ham hocks or ham bone, or other personal choice or kitchen stock
2 t salt
pepper as desired

Combine all ingredients in a large kettle, cover with fresh cold water by 3 - 4 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until done/soft.

This will depend upon many things! The age of your beans, the hardness of your water, the actual heat in your burner. Beans will be done, when they are done. To test, fish out one bean and smash it with a spoon, if it offers little resistance, the beans are done.

Remove pan from burner. Remove the ham hocks from the beans and set aside to cool. Remove the potato and tomato pieces from the beans and set them aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the potato pieces. Mash the pulp, and return to the beans. Repeat with the tomato pieces. Remove the meat from the hocks, mince the ham into 1/4 inch dice and return to the beans. Stir pot of beans well and taste for final seasoning. Season if needed/desired.
These freeze REAL well. It is nice to have a stash of frozen flat packages in the freezer ready to go. However I will label mine next time! This makes a large pot of beans with liquid, enough for about 6 1 quart bags for freezing.

* You may use any bean you prefer.

To serve, heat thawed beans and liquid to boiling. Serve over brown rice or corn bread for a quick, delicious and thrifty meal.

Have a great day!
M

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Rhubarb Preserves

I have been lazy/lost/tired/distracted/bored. Let's see, yeah that about covers it as far as the kitchen goes.

But I was determined to make the Rhubarb Red Grapefruit Preserves this morning. I put the rhubarb and grapefruit juice in the kettle, then added the sugar. I knew there would be no turning back at that point.

There are 4 jars of beautiful crimson preserves on the counter, they just finished "plinkging". A sound that I wait for after the water bath process.

In addition there is about 3/4 of a jar to eat now. That is the fun part, the small amount left over after all the jars are full. It is delicious!

Sunday Cafe Rhubarb Preserves

2 pounds crimson rhubarb, diced 1/4 inch
2 (organic) ruby grapefruits, juice from both and the zest from one
4 c sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large heavy bottom stainless steel kettle. Let sit 1 hour (or overnight). Prepare 5 8oz jelly jars and lids according to manufactures instructions. Place a plate in the freezer to check thickness of preserves. Bring preserves to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.

Continue to cook and stir 10 minutes, warning the preserves will boil up the side of the pan and may splatter you. It is important to stir constantly to prevent sticking and scorching. Place a small spoonful of preserves onto the chilled plate, the plate should cool the preserves quickly. If not thick enough for your preference, continue cooking. Check thickness again.

Fill jars to 1/4 inch from the top. Attach lids and rings, secure tightly. Place jars in boiling water bath, process 10 minutes. Let sit on counter to cool. Makes 4 full jars and some for now.

M

Pictures from July Sunday Cafe (thanks Janelle!)

These pictures were uploaded a few minutes ago, and it was great timing. I had just finished making preserves and was set to blog about it!

Saucepan Oatmeal cake, with frosting.

Grown up Spaghetti-0's
Homemade rolls and buns for the pulled pork.

Tortellini Salad with zucchini and roasted red pepper.
I must confess I did not share the one where our granddaughter is hiding her plate with her hand so no one could see how much she left on it. She did not want to miss out on dessert. It was more fun to say it than show it!

M