Monday, March 30, 2009

Monday night brights

Who would ever guess this is the same little girl shown at the bottom of this post? Why do kids like to make stretched mouth faces?

This is our house cat, He always eats his tuna first and only eats the dry food when the good stuff is gone. If you go to the dictionary and look up "scardy cat" you will find his picture! You never see this animal when anyone drops by, He is always under the bed.

This is a Walla Walla Bike License, expiration 1969. In Walla Walla you purchased a tin plate bike license each year. This kept all the bikes registered and therefore returnable if stolen. Honey has kept this in his collection of fun stuff/memorabilia for many years now.


These two pictures go together, granddaughter is hiding peanuts for a "peanut trail" for the squirrels at the park.

Our back yard borders the park and school, we never have a shortage of squirrels to feed.

I have gotten a couple of them to come and take peanuts from my hand, they are so cute when they come to the sliding patio door and beg to be fed.

Thanks for taking the time to drop by,

M

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Cafe

Asian marinated radish salad
Tomato and avocado salad with caper vinaigrette

Failed to get a picture of the cabbage and apple waldorf salad. Oops.

Roasted lightly candied sweet potatoes

Biscuit scone, 1 batch has parsley and cheddar

Broccoli lemon Chickpea pasta
Herb roasted salmon
Chicken Visouvio, not a good picture but very good tasting

Honey Walnut pie
Peanut butter cookies

Bailey Cake

We all ate a little bit of everything, I also made a batch of Colcannon (instead of the fingerling potatoes with pesto). Sent dessert bags home with most everyone.

A nice cafe.

Thanks for stopping by,

M

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I could not resist!


Honey and I went out to get the shopping done for the household needs and Sunday Cafe. We were in the grocery store, and about half done when the man and his young daughter in front of us, was none other than our granddaughter and her (very good and wonderful) Dad.

They were marketing, well He was and she was dancing (just a little bit) in the aisle.

He was gentle yet oblivious in his attempts to keep her on "their" side of the aisle,
not have her hurt and yet not have the other shoppers need to say something like...........

(LOUDLY) "Some people just don't know how to control their kids"!

The look on his face when He turned around to take on the world was priceless!

I just cracked up, granddaughter came over for hugs and kisses. He asked where would the ranch dressing mix be kept, and then we were off in different directions.

They were going to be stopping for Dad & Daughter lunch out, we needed to pick up the Bailey's Irish Cream Liquor for the cake.

I love days like this...

M

Sometimes I am a little slow.....


I had a great idea this morning.

It seems there is the option of making a couple (or more) salads that serve 2-3 people and having a salad course where it is actually a tasting. I am well aware that most of you probably came upon this brilliance, oh probably last decade; as I said I can be a little slow. But.....

I love salad, the idea of salad at each meal, and I love Sunday Cafe, and the idea of having a salad course at Sunday Cafe. But of course, this would go on in my mind.

"hmmm what salad"
"will everyone want that"
"what will the non-salad eaters do"
"just sit there? no that is not good"

And then I would throw together a plain salad with some vinaigrette and just be done with it.

But a tasting, now that is different. A little something that everyone could try and offer me the opportunity to make some salads that are just too much for the two of us.

Wow.

That was so easy.

Funny I have never and I do mean never, thought that more than one dessert was a tasting. I thought it was a requirement. You can certain see where I stand on things!

I have narrowed down the menu for tomorrow.

Chicago Style Chicken Vesuvio, from Proud Italian Cook.

Oven roasted Salmon with lemon herb crust, from Noble Pig.

Oven roasted sweet potatoes with maple and cinnamon, these are for the birthday girl.

Oven roasted fingerling potatoes with pesto.

Broccoli Rigatoni with chick peas and lemon, from Kitchen Parade.

Not quite Waldorf salad, from A dash of sass.

Tomato Avocado Salad with feta, from Kalyn's Kitchen.

Homemade bread.

Bailey's Cake, from Noble Pig.

Honey Walnut pie, from Buff Chickpea.

We should have a nice dinner and have some left overs as well.

Have a great day, and thanks for taking the time to stop by!

M

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday night brights

Everything is comfortable in the kitchen, using an instant read thermometer and a heating pad to create a warm and stable "environment" for the beta.

Caught in the act! Singing "We all live in a yellow submarine" and eating hot tamales candy!


Organizing the toy boxes. They had become a mess.

Job well done. 4 new boxes with similar type toys. Also room to add more as the grandkids grown and change and increase.

All is well that ends well. This is my new birthday gift.

And I quote, " you were busy grammy and I wanted to watch it but it fell over and I had to put the credit card back". And she did, at an angle that I could not budge. Thankfully Honey was able to get it out without damage. Like I said, all is well that ends well.

We did make 2 new rules:
1. you must ask for help to watch the picture frame.
2. if something breaks, ask a grown up to help.

We have had a lot of rain, I did notice more leaf buds. This time on the raspberry bushes. The rhubarb did not freeze out, the birds are still singing in the mornings and we bought a kite (a big kite) to fly just as soon as there is a sunny day. Soon it will be time for a trip to the beach. Also get the BBQ cleaned up, the tank filled up and the out door furniture set out.

Thanks for stopping by,

M

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sipping a glass of "house red" and chatting with you

Next Sunday is cafe, I have looked and found a few things I want to try; but like a Ronco commercial- wait there is more!

We will be celebrating a birthday too, does that call for another dessert?!

You can read all about her day long celebration here, and here. As I have said before, her blog inspired me to have my own. She is a very creative woman, I have learned from her and I hope I have been able to give some back. She also happen to be the Mom to our granddaughter, what more is there to say?

Today was my turn as weekend day manager. I did not make plans to cook a dinner as Honey is on the late shift. I am having a nice bowl of homemade soup and a glass of wine. Tomorrow starts another week, and the routine begins again.

thanks for taking the time to stop by,

M

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Colcannon, lets eat more kale

Right now on the stove is a pan with diced kale, sliced potatoes and some water; the kale is simmering and the potatoes steaming. I am making colcannon. Our local paper ran an article with a hearty dish that could be eaten by vegetarians on St Patrick's day, and still be festive. I thought the article missed the boat, because festive starts from within; for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. However the recipe for the potato and kale dish looked good, and I wanted to try it.

I am a bit lazier than the cook that wrote the article, so I am not using 2 seperate pans to cook the vegetables, I put the kale in the bottom and the potatoes on top to steam. Oh and St Patrick's day is long gone, so we are having a roasted chicken to go with.

Colcannon

1 bunch of kale, diced small
4 - 6 potatoes peeled and sliced
1 c water

2 T butter
1/2 t garlic salt
1/2 t fresh grated nutmeg
1 t leaf thyme, crushed
2 green onions sliced thin
2/3-3/4 c milk
salt and pepper to taste

Place kale in bottom of the pan, add sliced potatoes and water. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook 20 minutes. Remove pan lid and boil away any excess water (may not be necessary). Add butter and seasonings, start with the smaller amount of milk and mash the mixture. Add more milk if needed. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Serves 4-6

Thanks for stopping by,

M

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Keeping comfort in the kitchen


This is should of been saved for Monday Night Brights, but with yesterdays long list of chores and no recipe or words of wisdom (who am I kidding !) to share; this will have to be my post for today.

If you look closely, there is an instant read thermometer anchored in the plant, and the whole vessel is sitting on a heating pad. We are between seasons here in Vancouver. It is too cold in the house for the suggested 70 degrees "climate" and I am too frugal to heat the whole house for the fish! So we created a make do "climate".

Well this just goes along with my philosophy about kitchens and guests,

Keep everyone comfortable and all will be happy!

Thanks for stopping by,

M

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rounding up something new

Even though it is over a week away, I am looking for some interesting and new dishes to make for Sunday Cafe. I am tired of my own continued complaints about our nightly meals, so we shall move on. Because it is the two of us, Sunday Cafe is a great time to make all the things I am wanting to try; and share with the family as well. And what a wonderful way to try all the good things that I see as I blog hop and enjoy my coffee in the morning.

I have a couple of desserts that I am going to try, this Walnut pie and of course the Bailey's cake from the Noble Pig. I am of the belief that Baily's cake is good any time of the year, not just for St Paddy's day. Funny I never seem to have a problem selecting dessert!

For the main dish, I am looking forward to serving Chicken Vesuvio from Proud Italian Cook. And for fun and something a bit rustic, Cabbage Patch stew from Tasting Spoons.

We need some vegetables to keep things in balance, I will need to do a bit more blog hopping. But I do want to make this salad dressing from Kalyn's Kitchen, I love capers and this dressing sounds wonderful.

If you can think of anything else, drop me a line.

thanks, and enjoy your day.

M

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Mom, Mary

She was the only girl in a family of 13, so it is pretty safe to say she never wore hand me downs and was the princess in a time when "princess" as we know it had not been invented.

She saw her future husband on Friday the 13th when he came in to the little cafe she worked at and remarked to her co-worker, "see that tall good looking man that just came in, I am going to marry him. And she did on Sunday the 23rd, 10 days later.

She had 3 names, Mary Ann Louise Ireland. She descended from a family that came to America and took their Mother country name, as their last name in this foreign and new land. She was my Mother.

She was bigger than life, she could tease but not be teased. She could at the same time give to you and take away what she had just given. She could cook and bake just about anything. She had a fiery temper at times, yet loved and cared for all things that hurt.

She was a widow with 5 children at age 37. She never however forgot my Dad and I am sure loved him, even after she forgot who the rest of us were, as we went to visit.

Mother has been gone for a while now, but she actually prepared us for that. We were raised to be independent, and so we each stepped up to take our own place, as the Matriarch of our families. Although we all do things differently, we all have a little bit of Mary in us!

Happy St Paddy's Day!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by,

M

Update and a PS,

I have made corned beef and cabbage each and every year since I left home to be married, except this year. Maybe that is why I gave a bit about my Mom, rather than a recipe today; my own schedule is "off". I am having the absolutely worse time in keeping a decent meal on the table here lately, actually since Honey went to work on alternating shifts. I was spoiled, I admit it. But I can certainly understand why folks stop trying to share a meal together when everyone comes and goes and eats at different times. I do have a few things in mind for our next Sunday Cafe, but see that is a definite day and time. Will I ever get this conquered?

However here is Mary's corned beef:

Remove your corned beef from the package (throw away the spice pack), rinse the beef well. Place in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring (slowly) to a boil, simmer 20 minutes. Drain and repeat, this time simmer for 1 hour. Drain.

Preheat oven to 325, place corned beef in a shallow pan, roast until done. While the potatoes are cooking make a glaze of 1 part brown sugar, 1/2 part mild mustard, and 1 part apricot jam. Slather it over the beef and place under the broiler to caramelize. Let beef rest while mashing the potatoes. Slice thin against the grain, Enjoy!

Cabbage was allowed on the table because Dad loved it. But to enjoy the meal in full serve, even if not completely Irish serve:

Mary's corned beef
Colcannon
Rich white sauce to spoon over the Colcannon (like gravy)
Carrot raisin salad
Irish Soda bread or biscuits
Buttered green beans


Monday, March 16, 2009

Mondday night brights

Our new addition, a complete beta eco environment.

Meet "sparkles".

OK, I caved in to this purchase, a 6qt enameled cast iron dutch oven.

Spring is coming, here is rhubarb peeking out!

And leaf buds on the blueberry bushes,

and a volunteer prim rose come to visit again.

A crazy day at work, I had to approve payroll, bring census up to date and all the other things that seem to come about on Mondays. Time to relax with the granddaughter, and I will be back tomorrow with something tasty.

Thanks for stopping by,

M

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Beef Stew a discovery.....

Update:
I had thought about this stew throughout the evening, I decided the following about stews in general and my preference in particular. First I love vegetables, but not cooked in stew and for that long. Next time I make this (and I will, the meat was very tasty) I will make braised beef, not a beef stew. Separately I will cook vegetables and make mashed potatoes.

I had originally purchased the stewing beef for soup. But upon inspection, the freezer had no additional space to store another batch of soup. That only means one thing, stew for dinner. I have never been a huge fan of stew, maybe the flavor was not rich enough; but stew growing up - was not looked forward to.

I prefer a rich mingled flavor, it does not matter what I am eating.

I have come to enjoy my Saturdays in the kitchen, some weekends I don't want to leave the house. I just want to play in the kitchen. This is how I played.


My camera died in the middle of it all, so I had no choice but to go to Costco and get batteries, the BIG pack this time.


Saturday Stew
1 slice bacon, diced
1 lb stew beef, cut in bite sized pieces
1 small onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
1 T French thyme, crumbled
2 ribs celery diced large
6 carrots, sliced 1 inch*
3 potatoes, cut into up
4 dried tomatoes diced small
1/2 c red wine
2 c beef broth/stock
2 t grainy mustard

Fry the bacon until golden brown, remove and set aside. Reserve the drippings.

Combine the flour, salt, pepper and the thyme. Add the stew beef, diced onions and garlic, coat well. Add to skillet with the drippings and brown well.

Prepare the vegetables and place in the bottom of a 4 qt crockpot, add browned beef, sprinkle with the reserved bacon and dried tomatoes. . Deglaze the pan with the beef stock, stir in the wine and mustard. Pour over the beef in the crockpot, cook on high 4 hours, or until done.

Serve with biscuits and a tossed salad.

Serves 4-6

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

* carrots can be omitted, double the potatoes. The carrots were not as compatible with the seasonings as I prefer a finished dish to be. The stew would be great with buttered carrots or green beans on the side.

M

Today is the end of Christmas


This jar of cookie "mix" is the last of the Christmas gifts. I will bake them up for Honey, as I have all but shouted in the past; Honey has a very large sweet tooth! Possibly why I call him Honey. But back to the last day of Christmas.................................

Daughter is a good cook, actually a better cook than I am. She studies and decides and takes her time. She is not afraid to try something new and will bring it to a gathering. She brought a wonderful braised short rib sauce over pasta that was garnished with bittersweet chocolate shavings, to my birthday gathering. It was so good.

Me, I would not have even have given it a second thought to try something like that. Not because it did not sound good, great even; it is my years of being so very frugal. Those years forced a retraining of my cooking ideals and ideas. Turned me into a bit of a boring cook, I can make you laugh until your beverage is in danger, but sometimes the food is a bit boring.

Now boring is not bad, it simply is not adventuresome. I am trying to relearn and be more like my daughter. I have a willing family at Sunday Cafe, and a willing Honey for the other days and nights. And fortunately I have an understanding Honey, for those times when I am simply to tired after a long day; like yesterday.

We received as part of our Christmas, a food gift basket from her and our Son in Law that included lots of goodies. It also had a couple of homemade mixes. One for dried cherry-chocolate-chocolate chip muffins, I baked those right away! And this one for cookies, that I saved until now.

I guess I didn't want Christmas to end.

I hope your day is great, I have some chores that I have put off until I can't put them off any longer. Which I believe means, get it done!

Thanks for stopping by,

M

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Granddaughter's busy week

Our granddaughter had a big change this week.

She went from a daycare setting to Pre-School.

She is a different child, because she is being challenged.

I have helped this first week with some of the drop off and pick up routine, as there were previously scheduled meetings and conferences her parents had to attend. But tonight was a telling statement, she was tired; in a very good way.

She was tired from using her brain to learn and co-operate and explore. Rather than being tired from over stimulation and boredom. Even the conversations She initiated were directed at an idea or a specific theme, rather than noise for attention seeking.

With each Monday I/we spend with her, she grows and changes. She of course is only 4, she can manipulate both her PaPa and myself, she does want her own way as often as is possible, she does whine a little when she does not get what she wants, because she is after all only 4.

But this 4 year old is kind, thankful and appreciative.

She has chores and is made to live with the consequences of her choices and/or actions. She has had a library card since 3, writes thank you cards for gifts she receives and is made to say please and thank you.

Tomorrow her folks are back at it, I will be back here. Doing what I do, and trying to be more like the granddaughter,

kind

thankful

appreciative.



Thanks for stopping by,

M

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A simple hello

Yesterday was such a busy day, and long; it was really nice to come home to soup for dinner. I had never made beef soup with ground beef before, however it turned out OK. The meat cooked up tender, but it also did not seem out of place in the soup.

I have always been a cook that cooked with what was on hand. I prefer diced stewing beef for soup, but did not want to go out to the market and wanted to use what was on hand. For the crockpot beef barley soup, I will use stewing beef next time. I also think as a soup that will be served as a dinner entree the stewing beef will seem more filing. It is all about trial and error. I have not had much success with the crockpot, but this is one. I now know that I have cooked things way too long. Overnight for the 6 hours on high was perfect for the soup. I will use that process again.

Tonight I plan on making a batch of mushroom barley soup. Because mushrooms are so tender, I think the ground beef will be a good match. We shall see.

I caved in this past week and purchased an item that I thought I would not buy because of the cost. It was reduced in price and it was my birthday week, if that is enough justification! I will show it off next Monday. It will be fun to show different little things that happen along the way each week.

Enjoy your day, it is time to get ready for work (again!),

M

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Layered Beef, Barley and Vegetable Soup, tonight it's whats for supper

Remember those beef commercials from years back, "Beef, it's whats for supper". I am kind of like that about soup. This happens to be beef vegetable barley soup, but any soup will do. The thing about soup is, there are a lot of vegetables in there, and no one seems to mind.

I like the vegetables cut uniform, that way you get a little of everything on your spoon. This beautiful quartet is added to the bottom of the 6 qt. crockpot.

Looks good already, but there is more.

I bunch of kale, also cut in an easy to manage size.


Here is a guideline of what I did for this soup, however soup is very easy to personalize. You can have meat, lots of meat or no meat. You can use different vegetables, or (gasp) no vegetables! You will notice that I do not put potatoes in soup, because I do not like the texture of them when the soup is thawed. But I do have a potato idea that I will share.

Layered beef vegetable barley soup

2 pounds lean ground beef, made into a large patty and browned well, set aside to cool.
1 red onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
5 carrots, diced
1 bunch kale, diced
1/3 - 1/2 c barley
1 T homemade bay leaf seasoning
2 cloves garlic minced
2 t salt
1 16 oz can ready cut tomatoes, do not drain
beef stock base for approximately 2 quarts of stock

Place diced vegetables in bottom of crockpot, sprinkle with the barley and seasonings. Dice up your meat, add to crockpot. Add tomatoes and their liquid. Add stock to come within 1 inch of the top, cover and cook on high for 6 hours.

Yum, makes 6 qts of meaty dinner soup. This freezes well, and will be enjoyed again when time is tight.

Potato idea: I like baked potatoes. When we have baked potatoes, I always bake up more than we need for the meal. I like them pan fried the next day. This is great for soup night. Plan ahead and when you are having soup for dinner have a baked potato ready to pan fry, add that brown and tasty potato to the bottom of the soup bowl, ladle on your soup. Delicious.

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

Have a great day, and thanks for stopping by!

M

Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday night brights

I have yet to join a group of folks that participate in a weekly affair, like TWD or BBB's or even the Weekly Winners series that is fun to view. So I decided to have my own series.......

Monday Night Brights

It will probably be centered around the grand kids because, well we are grandparents; however there will be photos of other things accomplished or not! Speaking of other stuff, look at the clock that Honey made for the music room, it's at the end.



What do you do when the grand kids come to dinner and cannot decide between chocolate and strawberry milk? Tonight this Grammy made both.






Music lesson, listening to the Beatles with her PaPa!


Yum, chocolate and strawberry are good together.



Only an authentic Beatles album could be used to make the clock for the music room. This clock is just perfect. We had looked at some "pretend" record clocks at Target, and went from there. This photo is not very good, I need to improve on my photography skills, well actually develop some would be more accurate.

Monday's are always more fun when Honey is home!

M

Kale, it is more than ornamental, it is good for you


I love purple kale in an ornamental garden bed. But green kale in my kitchen, well........

I am learning to eat kale. Not because I have to, because I want to. Kale is like bran, something your grandmother probably cooked with and did not tell you, because it was good for you. And she was right.

I have to say honestly that I cannot eat it simply steamed (yet) and usually prefer the longer slower cooking method of soup. Not kale soup per say, but kale in soup. It holds up well to longer cooking, unlike other greens. I have begun using a bunch of kale in each pot of soup I make, and it has been a good decision, because it is good for you.

Monday's are granddaughter day. I will pick her up from preschool after work and we will come home and have dinner with her papa. There are the standard Monday routines to follow, feed the squirrels and refill the bird feeders. Go for a walk if the weather permits and find a way to sweet talk papa into more. More of what you ask, simply more; it really does not matter what!
At some point however, I am going to put together a pot of soup. Beef barley soup. That also has mushrooms and kale. It will go nicely with cornbread, or biscuits. It is still cold here, so this will be handy to have a couple of meals worth in the freezer. Also another good way to use the homemade Bay Leaf Seasoning.

Ahhh, another Monday. The weekends are going fast, but I am back to my more regular self. Thank goodness.

Enjoy your day.

M

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chewy Noodles for Chicken and Noodles

I have wanted to make Chicken and noodles for some time now. These noodles are known by many different names, fat noodles, tough noodles, home style noodles. But I shall call them workout noodles, why you ask?

Because that lump of noodle dough it strong, it actually has a rubbery quality to it. It will resist your rolling pin.

This is after 10 minutes of rolling. The dough simply does not want to flatten. What I finally learned is to roll from the inside out. That seemed to be a better use of my strength to defy the properties of the dough.


Here is the final product, rolled, cut and left to dry. These will be used for the chicken and noodles.

Workout noodles

2 1/2 c flour (you can use part whole wheat flour if desired, but remember they will be very chewy!)
1 1/2 t salt
2 t baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 c milk, and possibly a bit more

Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the eggs and about 1/2 c milk. Beat the liquid ingredients together, then mix it all together. The dough will have wet pockets and dry pockets, when mixing with a fork becomes difficult; start kneading the mixture in the bowl with your hands.

At this point the dough will be mostly together. Dump it out onto a floured surface, scrape the bowl with a spatula to get all of the noodle dough. Now simply start kneading, about 10 to 12 times.

Add a bit of flour and begin rolling. From the inside out seems more productive. When the dough is about 1/4 inch thick, cut it into narrow rectangles (using a pizza cutter works well for this) and let it dry until dinner time.

Recipe rating:  It's Ok. (tasty but not special)

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


Note: I have seen recipes for this type of noodle where the dough is grated. This would require a grater that has a grate pattern large enough to make french fries. It would be easier than rolling, but it would also produce a different cooked texture. If you want to grate, keep dough in refrigerator until ready to grate and add to the hot liquid for cooking.