Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hapy New Year, welcome 2009


It will be a quiet celebration, for many reasons.

1. We both work today and will be tired when the celebration hour
arrives.

2. We are fairly quiet people to begin with! Well except for Honey, he can REALLY turn the music up when He is at home alone.

New Years Eve starts with Thanksgiving. You see........................

When the holiday season begins, and you place that golden turkey on your table to serve; a New Years Eve celebration in in there.

The wish bone. Yes a bone. An old time tradition that is fun.

After the feasting is done, and the kitchen clean up is complete. When you empty those carcass bones into a stockpot, find the wish bone and set it aside. Go ahead and get your stock going, it will only take a few minutes more, that bone will wait.

Wash the bone, remove all traces of meat and such. Pat the bone dry it and set it in your kitchen windowsill and let is rest until New Years Eve.

It will become brittle and ready for that wish and a kiss on New Years Eve. That and a sip of champagne and your celebration is perfect. A simple and elegant way to close down one year and begin another.

What could be better?

The best to you and yours in the new year! See you in 2009!

M

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Peace and quiet, and goodbye 2008

I love the holidays,

love them,
love them,
love them.

But I must confess, I also love the peace and quiet that comes when they are done. In addition this year, I had 4 days (yes!) off in a row. This will probably never happen again until retirement, but it was sure nice.

And I did, nothing!

Well that is not true, I took the stove apart and washed the burner pans.

I emptied out the salt and pepper and washed the shakers.

I warmed the honey to dissolve the crystals.

I carried wood and kept the fire going in the stove.

I organized the left over Christmas goodies, sending some to the freezer.

I put away the small amount of decorations that we had set out this year.

I had pie and coffee for breakfast the morning after Christmas.

I reorganized the kitchen, hoping to make it "bigger" until we can do a bit of remodeling.

I gave Honey a quick tour of the reorganization.

I stayed in my pajamas all day long, one day.

I did all the things that are easy, peaceful and give a sense of belonging to one's home.

Because the older I get, the more I love my home and spending time there. I have never been a big social person, but I have been a work long hours or long weeks person. For many years that meant a 6 day week.

Home was usually a short visit. One day to restock the fridge, wash some clothes and put clean sheets on the bed.

2008 has been a year of small but significant changes.

I had already downsized my work life (late 2007), and was able to keep going and not lose what I had worked hard for.

I became excited about cooking and started canning & preserving again.

I started this blog.

I returned to/incorporated reuse, recycle and reduce. Now I just need to apply that last one to my waist line!

I made mistakes in the kitchen and the garden, and I will again.

I was successful in the kitchen and the garden, and I will be again.

I calmed down. Not that I was high strung, I was just busy; always more work than workday.

It has been a good year.

I look forward to the snow melting, rhubarb growing in the spring, roses in the summer and more cooking and sharing here.

Thanks for stopping by,

M

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Waiting for tomorrow!


The gifts have been set out.









Pumpkin pie is baked








Blueberry apple pie is baked








Dough ready to bake for cinnamon toast








Leftover pie crust scraps made into a snack (like we need more snacks!)







Well I/we got it all done. Honey and I baked the pies assembly line fashion. He went to fetch a movie to watch and I set out the gifts and decided to blog, just long enough to say

Merry Christmas everyone from the Sunday Cafe!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Let the countdown begin

No photo, no recipe, no nonsense, the countdown is on!


When I get to this point, I figure what ever is not done, is probably not important anyway!

And so far it has always played out to be exactly that, not important, or missed or even wanted.

I have a short list on the countdown to Christmas:

Purchase the last of the fresh items, on the way home from work tomorrow evening.

Bake a blueberry pie, after dinner

Set out meat to thaw for Christmas dinner, we will be having pork roast and roasted chicken.

Shape the bread dough in the fridge, and let it rise while baking the pie, back into the fridge to chill until baking on Christmas day.

After dinner dress the dining table in a pretty cloth and set the gifts out.

A quick sweep and vacuum of the floors and ..................................

get some sleep because it is going to be Christmas day when we get up!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone from the Sunday Cafe.

M

Monday, December 22, 2008

Little red car and the snow

This is my back yard, as a matter of fact; this is my backyard full of snow.

My backyard full of snow, with a trail to the shed. The shed built by Honey, where the dry wood is kept.

My backyard full of snow, with little black half circles in the snow, that are the tops of a little fence. A little fence buried in snow. In my backyard.


This is my backyard right out side the back door, showing the trail that leads to the shed full of dry wood, that Honey cut and stacked.

This is my pretty backyard full of snow. But we are warm because Honey built a shed and filled it with wood in our backyard. Now all covered in snow.




This is my little red car. It takes me to work to help pay the mortgage on the house that has a pretty backyard covered in snow.

It is a fun car, it goes fast and it goes slow. It even goes in the snow.

But it does not do well on side roads where the snow is deeper than the tires are tall.

I

GOT

STUCK!

Wha'cha gonna do?

Your going to behave, because we all have a "need help" sign on our back at one time or another.

And today I got payed back for the times I have helped.

I know that I don't automatically "owe" but the kindness that was shown to me will be in me waiting to reach out once again when I see a "need help" sign on someone else.

Happiness from our house to yours!

M

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Early evening snow update

This is really something, you can tell because I have blogged about it 4 times now! But we just do not get snow like this here, never since I have been here (1987). It is kind of exciting however, and the best part, is that people have slowed down.

With this being such a busy time of year, it is nice to see the slowness return. And even the folks in the stores are calmer. Families were shopping together, talking together and enjoying together. Maybe we should have snow every year.

I have gotten a lot done, not everything, but a lot.

I did just return from shopping and I was able to get the rest of the stocking stuffers, and a couple of gifts from Santa. Honey won't buy anything for himself, so Santa decided to be extra good to him this year. So lucky Honey, he gets gifts from me and Santa!

As soon as I got the car into the garage it started snowing again, and it is coming down pretty good. Tomorrow may be a late start for me for work. I have a little car, and it gets around great! No snow tires, or treads or chains. I was steady on the road when others were skidding. But I have retained my snow driving habits, even with 20 years of no snow.

I am getting dinner ready, vegetables are simmering for a hearty pot pie with biscuit crust. Honey loves biscuits. And a pot pie with biscuits is one of his favorites. He will be hungry, he has been at work since 7am, and since he is not home yet and his regular shift has ended, I am thinking that there were some no shows at work and he is staying late to keep things going.

This has been a very relaxing weekend. I have enjoyed the quiet and the snow! The house is warm with the wood stove, dinner smells great, and a nice glass of wine is warming my insides.

Take care, keep warm and good night!

M

Filling the baskets

Here is a list of what is in the basket:

little green tub, back right, 2 packages of oat bran muffin mix
Christmas tin, malted oatmeal cinnamon pancake mix
Preserves are,
rhubarb & red grapefruit
pear and apricot conserve
rhubarb chutney
apricot and sweet red pepper relish
rose hip jelly
spice jars hold,
garlic pepper salt
dry rub for meats
dry rub for meats with smoked paprika
lime coriander mustard
cranberry mustard
little bag hiding next to the tin, puffy cheese noodles

The finished baskets are not real pretty at this point, but the foods are safe to store in the garage until Christmas morning, when I will add:

a loaf of pork and bean bread
a pretty bag of baked nibble mix
fresh clementines
candy and a bow.

This has been a fun project. The rhubarb and rose hip are from my own back yard. I did not cook as much or grown as much as I would of liked, but I am happy with what I got done this year.

From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!

M

Snow update


Here is the same area, this morning. Very cold for Vancouver Washington. Since we rarely get snow, most folks are unprepared for it. Then there is the few that take advantage of a good thing and get out the ATV or the cross country skis and have a good time!

For me I simply opened the front door and snapped a shot. The only going out I will do is to get more wood for the stove. I will need to go to the store later today we are out of a few things. By then the road will be a bit more passable. I am about 20 years out of practice for snow. Having moved to Vancouver from Yakima, I came with snow experience, but it quickly went by the wayside.

Well enough about snow, it is time to get busy with the Christmas baskets!

M

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Store bought mustard, all dressed up!


This photo almost looks black and white, but it is not. This is a shot out the front door. The ivy growing under the fir trees has about 2 inches of snow covering it. The rest of the yard has almost 4 inches. The wind has now come up and snow is blowing about, making it difficult to see more than 3 feet in front of your path.

We are in the house, warm, full of soup and letting the night fall. It is early to think that, but I am in for the night. There are cookies to bake, and music to enjoy.

I did get the conserve completed, and the canning kettle put away. There is molasses cookie dough chilling, ready to roll into balls and bake. The fudge is set, cut and ready to package. The noodles are dry, ready to package.

I got all of my old spice jars washed and ready to fill. I also got some flavored mustard ready.

I took a jar of Plockmans premium stone ground mustard (30.5oz) and in 1/2 of the mustard I added:
zest of 1 lime
1-2 T lime juice
3 T honey
1 T white balsamic vinegar
2 T sugar
1 T ground coriander

to the rest of the jar I added:
2 c dried cranberries
2 T white cooking wine
3 T honey
combine in food processor until mixed and the cranberries are chopped finely but not pureed.

I love flavored mustard, it will keep practically forever and are great to spice up food and cooking.

Tomorrow I am going to assemble the Sunday Cafe baskets, they will keep nicely until Christmas in the garage where it is cold.

All that is left now is the stocking stuffers, there is always tomorrow!

M

Friday, December 19, 2008

Big day tomorrow

It has to be a big day tomorrow because there is a lot to get done!

The following commentary/complaint is available for venting only and not to be confused with that of the management:

Not that I am complaining, the week is always long when I have the weekend extra shift. The "plan" is that for the week that you have weekend duty, you will leave early by the same number of hours that your shift was and it will still be a "regular" week.

But I ask you, who will do the work that you did not get done, when you leave early?

Now you know why I have not been here to show and tell!

And now on to more important and interesting items. I was too tired to get the jam done earlier in the week, so I put the lemons in the fridge and tomorrow will be jam day. And fudge day, macaroon day, noodle day, stocking stuffer shopping day (I do not have enough), present wrapping day, wine sipping day, story telling day, decorating day, and anything else that is holiday orientated.

But right now, the cat needs to be pet, there is a fire in the stove, the bed has fresh sheets and Honey has music playing. So I will see you tomorrow, with lots to share.

In the mean while, this is what Christmas is all about!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"My" Sunday is over

Referring to the Sunday each month I work as weekend manager.

I am always glad when I have completed that duty. I then can get back to the mind set of having "my weekends off" and take comfort in the break from business work that comes on Friday evening, when I punch out and head for home.

With this being December and Christmas a little over a week away, I can now make a last minute list of what I want to accomplish. I have most of the stuff done, wrapped or ready to go. But there are a few last minute details like,

make the lemon, apricot and pear marmalade

divide out the stocking stuffers into piles on the floor, so that I can see
that I have (roughly) the same for everyone, of course granddaughter might have a couple more!

This looks like a lot, but there are 6 stockings to stuff.

So if I am low on stuffers, go and get some. I love the stockings!

make a double batch of the puffy cheese noodles, and let them dry
completely for gift packing

make some cookies and a batch of easy peanut butter fudge

wrap the stocking stuffers, I use the comics from the Sunday paper

change out the candles and wreath on the hearth

assemble food gift baskets

wrap the rest of the gifts

I think that is all. Not an overwhelming list by any means.

The hardest part will be the marmalade, but I need to do that first, my lemons are ready to use now.

I will get Christmas off, and I have a personal day to use or lose by the end of the year, so I also have Friday off! I am excited, to have a 4 day stretch. I have not had any real time off in over a year. And for the longest time I was working 6 day weeks. Granddaughter has asked to spend the night again, and I told her maybe at that time.

We are having very cold weather for our area. There has even been snow and school closures in the outlying areas. We have kept the wood stove going, but even with the stove, the house is chilly. Even the cat does not want to go outside! But that is perfect weather for marmalade making.

Thanks for stopping by!

M

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pineapple Spice Squares

One of the tasty recipes in my fun and creative Pork and Beans series. Give this a try, you won't be sorry!

Pineapple Spice Cake Squares
350 degrees
adapted from: creative cooks everywhere!

1 16 oz can pork and beans
8 oz can crushed pineapple - do not drain
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
4 eggs
1/2 c oil
2 t vanilla
2 c flour
2 t pumpkin pie spice
1 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c walnut pieces

Empty beans into a bowl and mash until smooth using a potato masher. Add sugars, eggs oil and vanilla. Beat well. stir in pineapple.






In another bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients. Add to the pineapple mixture, combine to mix, then beat well until smooth. Remember there are pieces of pineapple in the batter, and the batter will not be perfectly smooth.

Pour batter into a prepared 11/17 inch jelly roll pan. You will need to spread batter to corners of the pan. Sprinkle walnut pieces over the batter. I only put walnuts on half, because we have some folks that are not nut eaters!

Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until done. This bakes up a bit dark, from the brown sugar.
Do not be alarmed.


Prepare frosting:
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
2 t vanilla
2 -21/2 c powder sugar
1 - 2 T milk

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla together. Add 2 c of the sugar and 1 T milk. Beat smooth, adding more sugar or milk for a soft and creamy frosting.

Because it would be very difficult to tell which half of the pan had walnuts after the frosting spread, here is a neat trick to keep track of where to cut, depending on nuts or no nuts.

Divide the frosting equally between the two sides of the pan. Spread the frosting on the "walnut" side, and add a few more walnut pieces to declare that the walnut side.






Then spread the other side of the pan.


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

Pork and bean bread, with photos

I had already posted the pork and bean bread, here at Sunday Cafe. But that was before I had a camera and with the Pork and Bean series, I felt I should do it again. I did make two subtle changes, only because it is Christmas time.

2 c raisins (I happen to have golden raisins, so that is what I used)
2 T sherry

Combine sherry and raisins in a medium sauce pan. Stir to mix the liquid throughout the raisins. Turn heat on, when hot, stir again. Turn off heat, cover the pan and let the raisins soak up the sherry.

Coarsely chop about 2 c walnuts, set aside.



Empty a can of pork and beans into a mixing bowl. Use a potato masher to create a smooth liquid.


It will look like this.............................







To the bean liquid, add 3 eggs, 1/2 c oil, 2 t vanilla and 2 c sugar.
Beat well.








In a separate bowl, add 2 c flour, 1 c whole wheat flour, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t baking powder, 1 t baking soda and 2 t Cinnamon. Whisk together to incorporate all ingredients evenly.







Combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, along with the raisins, mix to combine. Do not mix until smooth. Quick breads are best with a quick mix, and not beaten until smooth.








Prepare 2 loaf pans, or my favorite 6 little pans.








Divide batter evenly among the pans, sprinkle with the walnuts.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees.
30-35 minutes for small pans, 45-50 for regular size pans.



Let cool in pans, 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack or clean towel. Wrap for storage, freezes very well.

Makes 6 small loaves, perfect for sharing or tucking into a gift basket.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It seems my day started last night

I don't know why, I don't know how, I am not certain of anything except, I was done sleeping at 2 a.m. this morning.

It is not that I have a lot on my mind, or worries or troubles keeping me awake. But I do have a limited amount of sleep time in me, and apparently last night I went to bed too early.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was tired, Honey was home from work. Dinner was over, and we were simply relaxing and listening to music. Feelings of "sleepy" were being washed over me as the music played.

Honey turned to me and questioned "are we ready for bed?" and I said yes. Apparently it seemed later than it was. We went to bed, I fell asleep and slept for my usual 5 hours.

Yikes, it was 2 a.m. and I was done. Done as in completely wide awake. My usual wake up personality is, wide awake. I don't have to slowly wake up and come to life. I am awake NOW.
Ready to start the day. So I started the day. I made up the blanket kit for the granddaughter.

I don't plan on wrapping it. Simply place it beneath the tree. She will know it is for her. I was going to make marmalade when I got home tonight for my food gifts, but I began to feel some fatigue. So I will wrap the rest of the gifts and then turn in. In 6 hours I will have been up 24.

I think I will try to get some sleep!

M

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cabbage Potato and Baked Bean Soup


I have no idea how long I have kept that clipped recipe. But that is how I am about things, if I like them; I keep them.

Woman's Day magazine offered this recipe, they had a little written info about the lady that submitted the recipe to them. "When Sophie Simeone moved from New Jersey to Tamarac, Florida to be closer to her grown children she brought along the recipe collection she started in the 1950's. Like so many of us, she has favorite recipes that she makes often, while others wait to be tried. Even in Florida, Sophie makes this hearty soup year round. Serve with crusty bread and fresh fruit for dessert and you've got a delicious lowfat, low-cost, low calorie meal."

What more could anyone say in these frugal times where family meals are still important?

Cabbage, Potatoe and Baked Bean Soup
Sophie Simone as showcased in,
Woman's Day Magazine
date unknown.

2 t oil
3 medium potatoes
1 c thinly sliced celery
1 small onion
1 pound green cabbage, diced or shredded
4 c chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 t pepper
1 16 oz can pork and beans in tomato sauce

Heat oil in a 3 qt saucepan. Add potatoes, cook until golden, add celery and onion saute additional 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in the cabbage, cover and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp tender.




This photo shows the beans being added too soon, oops! 




Add the broth, bay leaf and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes or until cabbage and potatoes are tender. Remove bay leaf.

then, 

Stir in the beans and cook 10 minutes longer for flavors to blend and beans to heat through.

Makes 4 servings


Cabbage soups are not pretty, but they sure taste good!

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello. I appreciate your time and your wonderful comments!


Pork and beans......and the beginning of a series


I spent some time last night while Honey was still at work and after I had taken a walk around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights at the Granddaughters house, googling. Yes I googled pork and beans.

There is a lot of stuff out there. Some it a repeat of what I had already known or wanted to try, not that I ever thought I was reinventing the wheel here.

But I should probably back up a bit.

I have been eating Pork and Bean bread for at least 20 years. I have shared (minus photos) the recipe here and it will be repeated with photos for the series. But about a year ago I came upon a recipe for soup. It was a frugal soup made by a frugal woman to feed her family. It caught my eye, and I clipped the recipe from the paper. She stated in the article that it was her "frugal" recipe that she used for a quick, easy and cheap meal. She commented " add some bread and fruit for dessert and dinner is done" or words to that measure.

In addition years ago I had added a can of pork and beans to a dish I making because all of a sudden there were more people to feed and no time to get more food to feed them, only time to make more. It turned out very good, and I have made it that way ever since. I will share that also.

I felt that there had to be more than my 3, so that led to googling. Googling led to more information and ideas and well you get the picture. Also, I like beans. I think beans are under rated and I think pork and beans are vastly under rated because they are a healthy convenience food,  and very frugal.

Stay tuned or come back to visit, this will be a work in progress, but the food will be delicious!

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello. I appreciate you time and your wonderful comments!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A busy, yet quiet weekend


For a change, we had the weekend off, together. I like working a standard schedule, I have become spoiled with that reality. Honey is not so fortunate. He will work the early morning, mid-afternoon or the closing shift. Except for the whole eating and sleeping part, it is not bad! Like I said I am spoiled.

Back to the weekend.

Granddaughter spent the night Saturday. She had dance practice, then a recital in the afternoon. I got to go, since I am back to a M-F schedule. The little dancers were very charming. Granddaughter was looking for me in the crowd, so I waved, then she relaxed and did a fine job! Then about 4:30 we picked her up and took her to dinner with us. Then home to begin the process of "spending the night".

We do not have the guest room ready with all the furniture, but hey with a good supply of camping gear, we go her bed ready. That and a wind up flashlight and we were done. The it was time for a movie, PaPa had chosen the Jungle Book so we could all watch a movie snuggled on the couch. Then 9pm was turn in time. She became a bit frightened, and said She was tired and wanted to go home. We simply explained that her Mom and Dad were not home. They had taken the opportunity to go out and see a movie and grab a bite to eat.

She and I laid down on her bed, and She was asleep within 5 minutes. Well 5 minutes of being still. First we had to wind the flashlight, shine it everywhere and move our legs about a mile's worth of walking! I asked if she could keep her legs in one place. She told me she would try," but it is hard". Bless her heart, she will keeping moving to not fall asleep. But she did a great job, her legs were finally made to be still, and she was out. I fell asleep too! Honey woke me up and I went to bed in my own bed. Thank goodness, I am too old to sleep on the floor all night long!

She slept all night long, did not wake up or cry. She did call out gently when she woke up at 6am. She is an early bird, like her Grammy. I was sleeping but had woke at 4, my set time. I simply stayed in bed, so I would be ready when she woke. Then it was a repeat of the Jungle Book, coloring, breakfast, a morning walk with PaPa and then home.

We got the Christmas shopping done. I know I am done, because I checked my online banking this morning and well lets just say, we are done! We had a nice lunch out, and then home for a movie, just the 2 of us.

All in all a nice and quiet, busy weekend.

So do tell, why the picture of the cookbook? Well.............................................

I have decided to run a series. Using pork and beans as the starring ingredient. They have a bad rap. They are thrifty (stock up in the summer), they are beans so that means good protein and fiber, they are a surprise ingredient. They will now star in there own series!

See you tomorrow!

M

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Simpe and Delicious Dry Rub for Meat

I wanted to make more dry rub to have on hand to use as well as put into jars for stocking stuffers, or little thank you gifts. I came up with this rub last summer.

I had read many, many recipes for dry rubs. Each of them had great reviews, and seemed great. However I kept coming back to the same thought, with so much heavy flavor from herbs and heat from dried chilies; how could you taste the meat?

So I came up with my own...............

Simple and Delicious Dry Rub for Meats
by the seat of my pants
makes about 1/2 c
1/c c Paula Deen house salt*
2 T brown sugar
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t dry mustard
1 T paprika
dash cayenne
1/2 t oregano
1/2 t basil
1/2 thyme

Grind your dry herbs in a pestle, combine all ingredients and mix well. Store in labeled bags in a cool dry place.
I made double recipes, in order to have some for gifting. I also made a batch with smoked paprika to spice things up.

* Paula Deen House Salt
1 c salt
1/4 c pepper
1/4 c granulated garlic
Combine and store in a cool dry area.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

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

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Have batteries, will blog

OK, why do I procrastinate so?

It was easy, walk into the store and buy the batteries. Bring them home, take old batteries out, insert new batteries. Easy right?

Then why do I procrastinate so?


It is Wednesday December 3rd, and I have 2/3 of my Christmas gifts taken care of, which means purchased, brought home and wrapped.

But buying a simple card of batteries, took what; a week!

What is up with that?

I know part of it, I am a technophobe. Remember the food saver? And I have a couple of other kitchen items I have not used yet, and I have owned them for..........well for a long time.

However the cookbooks are on a new shelf in the new room, that will be a combination guest/computer room. Granddaughter is wondering when "her room" will be done. She is anxious to spend the night. The room is still needing organization, and the bed. But the bookshelf is much better and the computer is up and running.

I have a kit purchased from JoAnn's that I need to put together for said Granddaughter for a gift for Christmas. You can see it in the shot of the wrapped gifts, it is the purple material. And I have a lot of things to get cooked, and made and ready.

I have a personal day I am eligible to use after the 22nd of December, but must use or lose at end of year. I am hoping to make the most of it and take a day to have some fun. And for me, that fun day would be spent in the kitchen.

With the batteries purchased, I hope to get back to regular posts.



Oh and I bought a 4 pack!

M