Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do you remember?

The collapsed book shelf? The one full of cookbooks, here it is, reinforced and repaired. There are a lot of cookbooks, and it is hard to choose one to use. Also you cannot tell, but it is wedged into the corner of the room and it is not handy to get to the books.

Maybe that is why I avoid the whole issue and cook things from other blogs or cooking articles.
But in a couple of months this whole group of books will be transferred to a different bookshelf. That different bookshelf will be in the guest room, where there will be a guest bed, where the granddaughter can sleep, when She spends the night. We are excited about that!

There will be other changes in the house as well. I will get the living room back, as just a living/sitting room for conversation and music and reading.
BECAUSE, we are turning the largest bedroom into a TV room! I am very happy about that. The living room is small and there is not enough room for guests to be comfortable, much less conversation when the TV is on.

I can then get to the cookbooks! It is fun to use a book for a week or two, and then select another. I am always amazed at what I had not noticed before, when I pull a cookbook down from the shelf. As our tastes in food change, so does our thought pattern about what "sounds good".

I did notice I have rose hips on the roses on the South side of the house. I want to research rose hip jelly. I wonder, how about champagne rose hip jelly? Please let me know if you have any information on rose hip jelly.

The peppers for cold meats went on a sandwich for my dinner. And the only thing I can say is, I should of put the sandwich on a plate so I could of had more of the peppers. You know knife and fork open face style, they are that good. I will make that often, especially for a roasted chicken or pork meal.

Have a great day tomorrow,

M

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Peppers for Cold Meats, from Auguste Escoffer

Update:  I made this delicious relish many years ago, and had to search on the blog to find it myself. In the following five years I have been blogging I have learned a great deal about how SEO works and how to properly title a recipe so someone may actually find it. This is too delicious to not be enjoyed, especially with gardening season coming and the markets will be filled with lovely produce, including bright red peppers! This is also just about mandatory for those after holiday times when you have a lovely turkey or ham for sandwiches.


Tonight I came home and wanted to cook something and photograph it as well. I had 3 peppers that were in the fruit bowl on the dining room table. I also had read her post on peppers for cold meats. That pretty much sealed the deal. I had peppers to use, a camera to document with and so here goes!

Peppers for Cold Meats
adapted from The Wednesday Chef
makes about 3 pints, refrigerate to store

4 T olive oil (I used about 2 T)
1 medium onion ( I used 1/2 of a large onion and diced it smallish)
1 pound red sweet peppers (my 3 weighed 1 pound)
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t nutmeg
1 pound of tomatoes, blanched diced and drained (I used a 16 oz can well drained)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c raisins
2/3 c red wine vinegar

Assemble your ingredients.









Soften the diced onion in the olive oil, do not let it brown.

Dice the peppers, add to the onions along with spices. Warm the mixture gently.









Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer. Cover and let (barely) simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove lid and simmer 10 - 15 minutes more. That's it. Refrigerate until serving.

The raisins will be plump and the taste of the spices will be a part of each bite.

Because of the high vinegar level, this will keep a long time. My guess is that it will be gone before you know it!

Hope your day was great!

M

Monday, October 27, 2008

I only changed one thing

This would of been the first Sunday Cafe where I cooked what I said I was going to cook, except I did change one thing and I added one thing. Here is a break down of Sunday Cafe, and the cast of characters!

Spinach Balls with Mustard dip, these went in a flash.

Mustard greens with smoked meat and cornmeal dumplings, these were not a hit; only my Son was brave enough to take a taste, and it was only one. But I like them. This will be my dinner this week while Honey is on the late shift.

Molasses Mustard Chicken, thumbs up by all.

Pasta with butternut squash, kale and Italian sausage, everyone except my Daughter liked it. Sent home family bags, since it makes a lot.

Tossed salad, not served as a course, not everyone likes it. But I like having salad, this went around the table and I cleaned out the bowl.

Puffy cheese noodles, this is what I made instead of polenta. I love polenta, but I was not sure of everyone else. These noodles were loved by all. They are easy and fun. I will show and share them here, in the future.

Spice cake, very good. Only SIL did not eat some, He does not like nuts. Sent some home in the family bags.

Apple crisp in the C'pot. Everyone loved it, this is so easy. Fix and forget. Only one serving left, I saved it for Honey.

Lemon squares. These are magic. There was not enough left to send home in family bags.

Pumpkin Pie Latte, yum. DIL and SIL had this with me. There is some of the Latte milk mixture left, and I am thinking warm with a little rum would be a cozy way to end the day.

All in all, a wonderful day. I must of washed every dish in the kitchen, some twice!

Introducing the cast of characters!

This is Honey, all around good guy and papa.

This is Daughter and SIL, getting ready to go to Disneyland for some R&R.

This is Son and DIL, great parents of the granddaughter.

Here is the Granddaughter, serious and goody!



Like I have said, I am lucky to have the family I have! Well time to get ready for work, as usual the weekend went to fast, I did not get enough done and paying work awaits.

Have a great day!

M

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I do not know what to say, except

Thank you,Thank you,Thank you, and Thank you!

As it turns out yesterday, about 10 minutes after my post regarding a digital camera; my Son knocks on my door. He and my DIL had gotten me one for under the tree this Christmas. He made the decision to bring it over, so that I would not go out and "get me some digital camera".

I was stunned and amazed and so very surprised. They will show me how to use it at Sunday Cafe.

Right now I have the spice cake in the oven, I also decided to make apple crisp in the Crockpot. I know, I know, we don't need three desserts. Someone please help me with this, I just can't seem to stop cooking, once I start!

But I have decided that Sunday will be a cooking day, that way there is healthy home cooked food for the week ahead. I will get things ready to put into the Crockpot or make things that can be frozen and reheated once we get home from work.

I am trying all new recipes for this Sunday Cafe. That is part of the fun, the other part is having the family home for Sunday dinner.

Hope your day is great, mine is!

M

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I have decided that

Due to my busy work schedule and due to my age and due to my lack of being inspired, I will not continue this blog..................................

without a camera. A digital camera to be exact.

I have wanted a digital camera for the lonnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggest time. The reason is that if the shot did not turn out as you wished, you simply delete. Easy, clean and for me necessary because, I am focus impaired. It's OK really, I have adapted in my 53 years.

But with a regular camera, you take the shot (thinking, wow that was great) finish the roll, drop it off at the local store, go back, pay, walk back to the car, and take a peek. And they are nothing like you had imagined. It is a sad experience that I have repeated countless times, and will not repeat again. Actually I have a perfectly good 35mm camera only used a couple of times, sitting lonely in the desk drawer. If you know of anyone that might like a camera, please, let me know. But my guess is, I am probably the last person in my family to get a digital camera. No wait, I AM THE LAST PERSON IN MY FAMILY TO GET A DIGITAL CAMERA. For Pete's sake, I need to stop being last, it is getting embarassing..............

But back to my busy work schedule, I have overtime pay on this check. And I am thinking that I will take some and "get me some digital camera", I should ask the rest of the family for suggestions on which camera to consider. Because as I have already declared, I am the last person in my family to get a digital camera. I won't have one for tomorrow's Sunday Cafe. But the time of no camera to use is coming to a close.

OK now I am excited. I have been a bit under the weather here lately, and putting in long days at work. But I have been in the new job for a month now. I have a better handle on my tasks and responsibilities. I am hoping to return to more cooking. Life is good again.

We are having an ecclectic menu for Sunday Cafe (we always do, I just act like it is novel). There will be:

Mustard greens and cornmeal dumplings (Paula Deen)
Casserole of Butternut squash, kale and Italian sausage (Relish newsmagazine)
Spinach balls and mustard sauce for dipping (Sunset magazine)
Spice cake (everyone likes sandwiches)
Mustard Molasses Chicken thighs (could not tell you if my life depended, sorry)
Parmesan Polenta squares (see above)
Lemon Squares (Penzey's Spices)
Pumpkin Spice Latte (a year in crockpotting)

Course order:

Appetizer, Spinach Balls with mustard dipping sauce

Main Selections, Casserole of Butternut, kale and Italian Sausage
Mustard Molasses Chicken

Side dishes, Mustard greens with cornmeal dumplings
Parmesan Polenta squares
Green beans with onions and bacon (because some may not like the others)

Dessert, Spice cake
Lemon squares

Beverages, Apricot ale
Chardonney
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Pepsi
Milk

See you there!

M

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Not the weekend I had originally invisioned

My plan was to get caught up, after my fatigue on Wednesday and my fun on Thursday. But come Friday night, I was just not feeling well.

Apparently there is a "bug" going around and I have become it's host. I had actually begun with a mild form after the weekend of parties (daughter and grand-daughter) and it sort of went away. I realize now that was why I was so tired, and too hot to sleep well through out the week. I say sort of because Friday night it reared its ugly head in a fierce way. I really did not know if I was going to be able to exit Target with my dignity, or get falsely accused of shoplifting by taking unpaid merchandise into the ladies restroom!

In the end, I was able to get to an empty cash register and pay for my one item and then go to the ladies room and take care of things, without the loss of dignity or possible jail time. Saturday was not much better, I just felt "punky", you know hot, a bit shaky, and a busy back end. And it was pretty much all day. My Honey was working so that was OK, I could just be alone and make myself as comfortable as possible. I actually prefer to just be left alone, when I am under the weather.

The one task I was able to complete yesterday was to sort out recipes that were duplicates or others that are just not the way we eat anymore. I said goodbye to about 800 recipes. And it was OK, I figured if our eatting habits have changed, and they have for the better, I would not have cooked them anyway. Some of them were yellowed from age, really now was I ever going to cook them anyway? Yeah I don't think so either! My recipe binder is managable and my recycling bin is full. But the best part was finding recipes that I have made before and want to make again, but did not know where to find them. I was happy that I had kept them, and look forward to making them again.

And today was not good either. I had to cancel plans to keep the granddaughter, thanks to my daugher who stepped in for me, things worked out OK for everyone. She is growing so fast, I hate to miss those times. Also with my new position I don't see her as much as before, I miss our day together. That is one thing I want to work on, making another "date" so we can get back to time with her.

We did go grocery shopping because there was not much in the house to eat, then Honey had to go to work. I got a couple of things done, easy things like: crockpot tapicoa pudding and poached chicken breast for sandwich meat. I had extra milk to use up, so the pudding was a natural. I poached the meat and let it cool in the broth. Then I sliced the meat and arranged it in a sandwich shape on a piece of was paper. These chicken packets were placed on a cookie sheet to freeze for 30 minutes, then they were wrapped up in the wax paper individually and each was placed in a sandwich bag. Then the sandwich bags were placed in a freezer bag, clearly labled and the whole thing was put into the freezer. You can make your sandwich and simple place the meat on the bread, pull away the wax paper and the meat will thaw in time for lunch. I also have a large container of chicken broth to use for the next pot of soup.

I have also spent some time working out a menu for Sunday Cafe. And I would post it here, except my recipe binder is not organized and at this moment in time, I am unable to put my fingers on a couple of recipes that I had wanted to use for the Cafe. Doesn't that beat all???!!! I therefore think the rest of the evening will be spent organizing that binder, until Honey comes home from work and we can settle in for the night.

Have a great day tomorrow.

M

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tonight was going to be cookie night

Originally my plan was to get something accomplished each night, while Honey is on swing shift. Tonight was going to be cookie dough, but I had a change in plans, I am tired. I did get out the garbage and recycling for pickup tomorrow morning, and I fed the cat and then myself, but decided I was simply too tired for more than that, so no cookies tonight.

I did very well on Monday and Tuesday. Monday was cleaning and freezing italian prune plums and catching up on the laundry. Tuesday had me paying bills and washing the shower curtain among other things.

But tonight I am tired. I did set out the recipe book with my favorite snickerdoodle recipe, as a reminder that my chores are not done. Tomorrow will not be cookie night either, I am going to see Celine Dion with my daughter. Fun times to be had, tomorrow. Then it will be Friday night, and maybe that will be cookie night.

I am more comfortable in my new job, and Honey is finding some comfort in his. Then next week a different shift is on his schedule, but we will be able to eat dinner together again. I feel a sense of relief in my new job, a feeling that I have a grasp on some of the duties, and will be able to learn the rest. I am grateful for that. Starting again in your 50's is not easy!

Soon it will be Sunday cafe. And I will need to get a plan together for that. I think I am beginning to get back to more regular posts, and more cooking. I like that, a lot!

I have been noticing a lot of posts on frugal cooking, and "the hungar challenge" where different San Francisco food bloggers adhered to a budget equal to food stamps. I am amazed at the creativity. It is not easy work being poor. I am more grateful for my own circumstances.

I had come to notice that the two of us were wasting more food than I had been accustomed to in past years. I have made a conscience effort to get back to more frugal ways. It is easy to not see the waste when more than one person is paying for groceries, and putting things away, and therefore is the one to toss out what had gone bad.

So back to the future for me! Reduce waste, recycle what is still good, and reuse everything else!

Have a great tomorrow.

M

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back to normal, for us

We had a busy weekend, two birthday parties and an "open house" if you can call it that for Honey's new job.

The Lowes he works at is having it's grand opening today. Last night there was an open house kind of affair, to bring the family, come in and see the completed store and purchase any and all you wanted at 20% off. We did pick up a new light for the kitchen. It will match the one we found used for a really great price on Craigslist, and provide more light as well.

Today also starts the swing shift rotation that I am sure will continue for some time to come. We won't be seeing much of each other, but it will be OK. I am not sure yet the way this whole thing will work, if the swing shifts are rotated with each team member or they will be primarily Honey's shifts.

I have a lot of catching up to do in the kitchen. So I will use the time in the evening after work to get things done. We are out of cookie dough, and I have a four pound container of Italian prune plums to clean, and freeze. I also need to make up a batch of All Purpose Baking Mix, and I really would like to make a batch of apricot honey butter. If the swing shifts are a regular part of his work week, I will get a lot done.

I would also like to begin making some Christmas gifts. But we shall see, I can also be lazy in the evenings when I am tired.

In addition I am on week three of learning a new job that is a lot to learn. I have a good feeling for some of the things that I have been shown already, but some of the billing practices and payment tiers are really difficult. Medicare billing is all new to me, and it is involved. I can certainly understand the turnover that has happened in that office.

On a happier note, the birthday girls were such joy. Both my daughter and my granddaughter had happy birthdays. It love being a Mom and Grammy!

Around the home place, the backyard fence is done! Honey is glad, and it all got wrapped up just in time, with the cold and wet weather setting in. Now we can do a few things in the inside, hey I know we could put up a new light in the kitchen, yeah that's a good idea!

Hope your day is great!

M

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Birthday weekend!

It is a busy birthday weekend in our family this weekend! Two ladies have birthdays.

My lovely daughter is now 30, and where did those years go? Thirty years of love and pride, thank you.

My granddaughter is now 4! Four as in taking on the world and seeing everything new, for the first time. She is a sponge, soaking up all that is shared with her and all that she sees.

Daughter threw a party, made a lovely dinner for everyone. It was an 80's theme party, she even had a time-line printed out and posted so we could remember those years. Guests were requested to come in 80's dress or costume. A nice evening.

Granddaughter had a "princess party" with her playmates on Saturday and today we will have a a family lunch and birthday cake.

I am a lucky woman to have the family I do!

M

Saturday, October 11, 2008

French Toast Pancakes

I won't go overboard on this, but a few of these are handy.

I use the comic section of the Sunday paper as gift wrap. The stock market section is nice for men. I do not put bows and ribbon on children"s gifts, they only get in the way and it is more fun for young children to open their gifts without assistance.

When making taco meat, stir in a can of pork and beans at the end. I know tacos are fairly frugal to begin with, but cans of pork and beans are cheap (especially in summer months) and will stretch the meat and add extra fiber and nutrition. This is especially good with corn tortillas.

You REALLY can freeze anything. Mother nature is proof of that. But for food, the question should be, what is the quality when thawed ? You can freeze many things and they are still usable, but different. For example.....................

When frozen block cheese becomes crumbly, but grated freezes very well and is handy to have around. Use it in a cheese sauce or sprinkled over the top of something to melt. So never let cheese go bad. When you are not going to have a use for that last bit of cheese, grate it and put it in the freezer. It will then be ready when you are. You can have a bag just for cheese. I have found it is easier to be frugal when you have your area (no matter which room you are working in) ready to be frugal.

Garlic, is great frozen. I purchase the whole peeled cloves at Costco. Pulse them in my food processor and form into logs on a piece of heavy plastic wrap, about an inch in diameter. They are easy to slice when frozen and a 1/4 inch thick slice of the garlic log is equal to a fresh clove. Easy and economical. And besides I hate peeling garlic.

The last stalk of celery or carrot that has wilted, throw them into your vegetable scrap bags (recycled cereal bags!) they will add flavor to your vegetable stock. And speaking about vegetable stock, you know that first layer of onion right under the skin? The one that is frequently too tough to actually use in your recipe? Yes that one, throw it in you vegetable scrap bag also. With the exception of broccoli, cabbage or lettuce, any fresh vegetable getting past it's prime, should go into the scrap bag for stock.

When making bread dough, freeze half to bake at another time. Dough freezes very well, and will rise again when thawed. This is especially handy for small families that will not eat the whole loaf, or simply enjoy freshly baked bread. Just remember to shape it before you freeze, then simply remove from freezer and let thaw on/in a prepared baking pan.

Speaking of bread, do you have left over bread? Tire of bread pudding, or maybe the family does not like it? Make pancakes. Yes pancakes.

French Toast Pancakes

4-6 pieces of bread
2 eggs
1/4 t baking powder
dash of vanilla
1-2 c milk

Put everything in your blender cup, starting with 1 c of milk.

Cover and blend until smooth adding additional milk as needed. You want this a bit thicker than pancake batter, but not too thick.

Cook just like you would for regular pancake batter. Serve with butter and syrup.

As always thanks for taking a minute to stop and say hello. We appreciate your time and your wonderful comments!



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Budgets..........

I have been touring the 'net to see the new and exciting budgeting posts that seem to be everywhere. But everything old becomes new again and that is especially true with money saving tips.

It is great to see so many people care enough to share through their blogs. And most folks will be able to find a new hint to help them. There might be some folks that have not been in financially troubling times, until now.

But I am an old frugal dog, and I want to talk about one of my favorite money saving tips.

Cereal bags.

That's right cereal bags. Don't laugh, cereal bags are sturdy and "free".

We eat a lot of cereal in our household, and this is what I do. If the bag is only open partially along the top, I finish opening the top "melted seal" , then turn the bag over and shake out any crumbs or left over sugar crystals etc. Most cereal bags will shake out clean, and the small amount of dust left in the bag does not (has never actually in all my years of doing this) interfere with re-using the bag.

If the cereal has been especially strong smelling (fruit loops, god help my honey he likes a box of these from time to time), I will use this for coating meat, because the smell will not interfere with that short process.

These bags are great for:

coating meat with a flour mixture before browning, just add your flour and seasonings, fold down the top and shake to combine, add meat, fold down the top and shake to coat.

divide a loaf of bread, freeze to store.

use a bag to collect vegetable scraps, another for chicken bones and scraps, and another for beef bones and scraps, in your freezer. When the bag is full make stock.

keep a block of cheese in the bag, just fold the bag over, it allows a bit of "breathing" keeps cheese from molding in your fridge. And use the bag as a "sleeve" around the cheese when cutting or grating, this will also keep the cheese from molding.

add crackers or dried bread, fold over the top, use your meat mallet to crush.

wrap 1 dozen baked cookies, for freezer storage.

wrap something especially strong smelling that you need to throw away in the garbage.

Why pay for a plastic bag, when you have them for "free"?

Hope your day was great,

M

Sunday, October 5, 2008

........we now return to our regularly scheduled programing

Hello once again.

I was (yes, was as in past tense) going to share a recipe using the All Purpose baking mix. It was going to be a lovely thing, with vanilla and nectarines and brown sugar. But my oven, was not up to baking anything. It was actually not usable, because it has been used so much. In other words it was dirty.

You know the kind of dirty I am talking about. Pie or roast drippings on the bottom, that, when forgotten about will be a thick smoke cloud when you preheat the oven for the next session. Thick and smelly smoke that will set off your smoke alarm, and scare you and make you rethink baking and possible cooking altogether. Yes, that kind of dirty!

So I took care of the oven, in order to bake later today and share tomorrow.

I found on clearance (I love clearance!) a non stick baking liner for my oven. I have never used one before and have decided that being on my hands and knees cleaning the oven is not where I want to be in my kitchen. The box states that you simply have to rinse under running water to clean. I actually put my reading glasses on in the store to make sure I read that right. And I had, so it went into the cart.

This morning I scrubbed the oven floor. Well I also cleaned out the nuclear waste that had accumulated in the microwave, but that is totally unrelated to my oven mat excitement. I then preheated the oven to "burn off" any leftover cleaning product, and later I will cut the mat to fit my oven.

Then let the baking begin. This is all in good time actually, with holidays around the corner; there is lots of baking to do.

Tonight I am hoping to serve the nectarine upside down cake, and will share that tomorrow.

Have a great day!

M