Monday, November 22, 2010

Antipasti Salsa

I like stuff!

I really like old kitchen stuff, old cars and even better, old pick-up trucks! 

 if this was full size and had an engine, this is what I would drive!

I did ask the housekeeper at work to open the garbage bag the other day so I could retrieve this…..

 this now has a place on the kitchen hutch shelf, it is great to hold the small fruits and vegetables

…..it had been on the free shelf, and no one wanted it. When I heard the conversation about throwing it away, I knew it was meant for me. I was not quick enough to get it before it was trashed, but quick enough to save it, from the trash. I did not even know they had a “free” shelf in the lunch room until that moment in time! See, you can learn something new everyday.

I am not certain that liking old stuff means that I like myself better, now that I am older. But you know, I think I do! Maybe it is because I am more forgiving of others, and by natural extension, myself as well. I also have a different sorting guideline, a newer and more up to date understanding of the important things in life. This is a direct result of listening to what is important to me, and then taking appropriate action.

Forgiveness is a wonderful thing, even when practiced on one’s self. Just remember this important point, forgiveness is not permission to act badly. Never was, and never will be.

I will forgive anything, but I may not be willing to forget. Is that a conflict of words? Not really. We are all adults, and even adults get hurt feelings. But after the pain, since we are adults, lets act like adults. I will forgive you, for you and for me. The first part is for you, so that you may continue to enjoy life and seek happiness. The second part is for me, so I can move on, as well.

I don’t like fluff!

I don’t like salesman fluff or loud advertising fluff. And I don’t like fluff in relationships, whether business or personal. I know I am sounding a bit cranky here, but time is in short supply these days and why use it for fluff, when you can have real?

Everytown USA is getting rid of fluff. It seems folks want real food and real jobs with integrity. Families are getting larger and some women are staying home to do their best work. Different types of things are appearing on wish lists like, chicken coops and laying hens. Even a composter, to make things easier. Once again homemade is no longer second best. And dinner with the family has value and is planned for.

Personally I love it! Maybe it is part of that newer and more up to date understanding of what is really important in this life? If so, I am not the only one, mores the better. Could it be true that, everything old becomes new again?

What ever it is, I am thankful. And I am grateful. Grateful to those I love and who love me in return. I am thankful for employment to keep my home warm, safe and dry. I am grateful for love and friendships to keep my heart happy, and shared times to keep my spirit strong. 

 Thank you family, near and far. 

As we head into another year ending; with lots of festive celebrations, there is no better time to take stock and realize the happiness that is yours. A review of the past year, will offer a chance to feel proud of the hits and inspiration to revamp plans for those items that made the miss list.

No matter what you find, feel proud of yourself, your hard work, your future plans and above all your family.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

And now for the food. There is not an ounce of fluff in this recipe, and personally I cannot wait to stuff myself with it!

Antipasti Salsa
Adapted from:  dip it!
By Rick Rodgers
1 ½  T red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, pressed
¼ c olive oil
I am so glad Honey bought the whole stick, I love this stuff!

1 10 oz package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and cut into small pieces ( I wanted a very flavorful dish, therefore I used only 8 oz from the package)
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and minced
2 medium celery ribs with leaves, minced
2 T chopped fresh basil
1/8 t crushed red pepper

½ c (2 oz) Italian salami, minced
½ c (2 oz) provolone cheese, minced

¼ c pine nuts, toasted
salt to taste

Baquette slices, Crosstini or pita chips for serving

Combine the vinegar and garlic in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add artichoke hearts, red bell pepper, celery, basil and crushed red pepper.



 

Cover and chill 1 hour or if making in advance, up to 2 days.




When ready to serve, stir in the salami, cheese and pine nuts. Season with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl, serve chilled with a small spoon for scooping.


Serve with bread of choice!

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

If you have a desire to make Crosstini, here you go! This is also provided by Rick Rodgers.
Crosstini
400 degree oven

1 baguette or baguette shaped Italian bread sliced ¼ inch thick
olive oil

Place bread slices on baking sheet, brush with olive oil. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. If using 2 pans, rotate pans, at about 7 minutes. Continue baking until golden.

As always thank for stopping to visit.

This post shared with:
Hearth and Soul @ a moderate life

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Creamy Polenta, a slow cooker recipe

Another great thing about participating in Cookbook Sunday is paying more attention to those books! They do tend to get ignored, especially with most cooking being done after work and such a simple affair, no recipe is needed. Now that I have given myself permission to simply "grab and go" with any book, it is more enjoyable also. Because I have a Sunday dinner each month, usually with several entree choices, we tend to eat rather simply the rest of the time. Well, after the leftovers are gone!

I am a Polenta fan, having fallen for it during my years working in downtown Vancouver USA. Usually a couple times a month my co-workers and I would go to Andrew's, a small, made from scratch lunch cafe, across the street from the Courthouse.

They served Polenta in many forms, each dish presented was delicious. Andrew's is now closed, the owner has gone on to be a caterer. But my memory of enjoying the food is clear as a bell. I am fortunate to have their cookbook!








I have cooked Polenta the old fashion way, and did just fine. My dutch oven was perfect for that task, no scorching or other problems. But I came across this great technique in The Italian Slow Cooker, and want to give it a try. This is a simple, no stirring way to go.



Creamy, made in part with part whole milk,  and
Parmesan cheese was stirred in before turning out  to cool. I had never used milk as part of the liquid, so this was new for me. The milk makes a softer Polenta.

 


Basic Polenta
adapted from:  The Italian Slow Cooker
by, Michele Scicolone

 
1 c coarsely ground yellow cornmeal, preferably stone ground
1 1/2 t salt


5 c water, or combination of water/broth/milk (I used 2 c milk, 3 c water)

In a large slow cooker, stir together cornmeal, salt and water/combination of liquids.


Cover and cook 2 hours on high.

Stir the polenta.

If too thick, add a little milk, water or broth. Cook for 30-60 minutes more or until thick and creamy. Serve hot.

Variations:  use all broth, stir in 2 T olive oil before serving, stir in 1/2 c grated cheese before serving. You may mold the Polenta in a shallow pan for slicing and browning, if desire.

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

As always thanks for stopping to visit, I appreciate your time.

this post is being shared with:

Cookbook Sundays @ Brenda's Canadian Kitchen

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Graham Cracker Muffins


When I first joined Cookbook Sundays, my own mindset was unaware of how simple the whole process could be! I though my post would have to be big and beautiful and beyond what we eat on a regular basis. But soon I realized my own thinking process was flawed, and that all I need do is grab a book, cook, post.
Easy, just like 1, 2, 3.

Love my old food mill, being used to hold small fruits and vegetables

and this pottery colander, used for garlic and onions. (sorry I could not resist sharing these!)

This Sunday I have granddaughter here for a sleepover, and immediately muffins came to mind. A quick check and the perfect recipe was right there, Graham Cracker Muffins. Everyone here loves graham crackers, especially Olivia.

Graham Cracker Muffins
adapted from:  Mostly Muffins
Barbara Albright & Leslie Weiner
400 degree oven

1 c flour
1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c wheat germ
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c sugar
1 1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

1 c buttermilk

1 egg
1/3 c oil
1/3 c molasses

1/2 c raisins - optional (I did not use)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin, set aside.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, whisk to combine.


 
Combine egg, oil and molasses in small bowl, whisk to combine and beat egg.


Add wet group and milk to dry group. Mix well. Batter is thin. Divide batter between tins equally.


Bake 15 - 20 minutes, or until tests done in your oven. Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes, loosen muffins from sides of tin and turn on to their sides to release steam. Makes 12.


Serve with:

Brown sugar Cinnamon Butter
4 T soft butter
1 T brown sugar
1/8 t cinnamon
Set this up to soften while the muffins bake.

Combine well, making sure no streaks of butter are present, serve with muffins.



Grandma tested, granddaughter approved!

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop by.

this post shared with:
Cookbook Sundays @ Brenda's Canadian Kitchen
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cinnamon Flats

In our kitchen, we have a couple of changes that need to be brought to the attention of someone.

OK, one is actually a show-off, which I intend to bring to your attention, as a way to show appreciation to Honey. He took my suggestion and ran with it. The other item is the fact that we have an empty cookie jar, and I must do something about that! First lets start with the kitchen hutch.

Once there was a little kitchen that had no counters, this proved to be quite a problem for the cook, who loves all of her stuff, and she has a lot of stuff. One day the cook was scanning craigslist for something, anything that would improve the counterless conditions. And she found a 1960's built in dining room "hutch", that had been removed in a remodel.

It was a good deal (financially), had lots of storage, and was ready to use now, with very little work. Done deal. Love the hutch, the storage capacity and being able to put out my pantry items in jars and have immediate access. I was so proud, I even submitted the whole thing to Perfect Pantry, and my little hutch was showcased that Saturday, it was great!


This photo from when we first brought the hutch home, everything is different now.


But we did not increase the counter space in any way. 

I then began to realize that the counter space issue was head on and a problem. What to do, what to do. I had suggested to Honey that we hang the shelf portion (this unit is like most, it is two sections) on the wall. "No that was not a good idea, very heavy with all the stuff". My verbal reply was "OK" my silent thoughts were, "and why not?".

Fast forward a year or so and still the counter space issue is so bad, I am now searching once again to see if there is a different something, anything  that could be found to take the place of this hutch and offer the needed counter space. And then it hit me, legs. I know sometimes the simplest things take the longest time to understand. I proposed my idea, and here we have our hutch, with counter option:

Thanks, Honey!

We did add a support board to the wall (behind) and after the upper portion was where it needed to be, this  section was screwed into that support. It is so nice to have an area to place cooked food on a trivet, out of the way and keep working. Also it comes in real handy on Sunday Cafe, Sundays. Love, love love it!

And now on to the cookies. We are having rain here in Vancouver USA and it is cold. Cold outside calls for a spicy cookies inside. Lets make Cinnamon Flats. Cinnamon is a favorite flavor of, you guessed it - Honey. Well cinnamon, right after chocolate! 

Cinnamon Flats
350 degree oven

1/3 c butter
1/4 c coconut oil 
3/4 c sugar

1 egg
1 t vanilla*

1 2/3 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt 
3/4 - 1 t cinnamon - if you love cinnamon, use the full teaspoon measure.

1/2 t cinnamon - you can also add more here!
3 T sugar
Mix these together, set aside until needed.



In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and coconut oil. Beat in the sugar, beat until creamy and the sugar has begun to melt into the shortening. Add the egg and vanilla, beat until creamy.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and Cinnamon, mix on low until dough is even, with no wet or dry pockets. 


Using a large cookie scoop or a spoon, drop dough into sugar mixture, roll around in the bowl to coat with the cinnamon mixture. The dough balls should be about 1 inch in size.


Place dough on sheet, and flatten lightly with a cookie stamp or potato masher. 


Bake 15-18 minutes, or until done in your oven.



Let cool on sheet, 7 - 10 minutes, remove to rack of towel to cool completly.


Makes 15 large cookies.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)


* to make cinnamon extract, put cinnamon sticks in a small jar (or large jar if you want to make a lot!) and cover with vodka. When it is brown in color and smells like heaven, it is done. We have a jar going now and I want to use some in this recipe the next time I bake for Honey or even me, cause I love cinnamon too.

As always, thanks for stopping to say hello, I love having visitors!

This post is shared with:

Seasonal Saturday @ la bella vita

Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen

Tuesday Night Supper Club @ fudge ripple

This post is being submitted for:
12 days of bloggie-mas 5 cookies @ a moderate life.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Raspberry Thyme Vinegar


I enjoy sharp flavors, including vinegar and mustard. I have made both, for Christmas sharing. This vinegar is the last of the items needed to get done in time to age for Christmas giving. I have 3 types of mustard for the men (aka sons) in the family, and this vinegar along with homemade vanilla extract and cinnamon extract are for the women (aka daughters)  in the family.

Raspberry Thyme Vinegar
adapted from:  Gourmet Vinegars,
                       How to Make and Cook With Them
by:  Marsha Peters Johnson





 Homemade flavored vinegars are so easy, and make a nice gift.

1 quart white vinegar ( 5-7 % acidity)
1 pound raspberries, these are homegrown and frozen
handful of fresh thyme
2 T sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large container with a lid, a 1/2 gallon canning jar works great. Push thyme down into vinegar if needed. Cap and place in a cool dark area for 4 weeks. Strain and bottle into a clean container.


Tomorrow I will stir well, making sure to mash up the berries. Then I will put it away until time to strain and re-bottle.

This can be used in salad dressings, a splash to brighten carrots or baked squash, and the signature recipe from the cook book, Raspberry Chicken. I will try and remember to make the chicken in a few weeks.

Recipe rating:  Hmmmm. (thought this would be better)

As always thanks so much for stopping to visit,
I love having visitors!

This post is being shared with:

Cookbook Sundays @ Brenda's Canadian Kitchen.

Simple Lives Thursdays @ GNOWFGLINS

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pork and Bean Bread, and The Birthday Exchange


I have a favorite son and because I am truly blessed, I have a favorite daughter. I will make something for one of them when they come to Sunday dinner and have been known to say, as I put it on the table, “ because you are my favorite son”, or “for you, favorite daughter”. My daughter has reminded me more than once that, ahem, she is my only daughter. And I tell her, “yes dear, I know”. My son has never made that comment to me, I guess it is just one of the ways that boys are different than girls.

I did tell them what I had been told by a co-worker, she said without any emotion at all:

“ I wasn’t my Mothers favorite child, but I was, her only child”.

You see, having such a blessing, as two favorites can be interesting, and convenient as well. When they were little and I made cake frosting, each was given a beater to lick. When there was only one of something each wanted, cutting in half frequently worked well. Then there was scouting, even though each had a group and the opportunity to join,  wouldn’t you know it, neither wanted to. Go figure.

They, my favorite son and my favorite daughter think that they are very different. But of course as their favorite Mother, I know better. They are close, more so than they realize. For instance: he was born in September, she in October. There was however a four-year gap, I’m good, but not that good!

My favorite son got married in June, the favorite daughter in August. If you are wondering, yes, that was the same year. Two weddings, same summer, held in two different states, and I lived out of town, each time. I  made the food served at the Groom’s dinner, for my favorite son. I also made a lot of the food for the outdoor buffet, which was a part of my daughter’s wedding. Excuse me, I mean, my favorite daughter.

They share a few other things in common also. Each is 6 feet tall. And each has sizable feet on the other end as well! And they share a love of practical jokes…..

Many, many years ago, the three of us went out to dinner to celebrate the favorite son’s 18th birthday. We went to our local Mexican restaurant, well known for it’s loud round of Happy Birthday to celebrate and embarrass the birthday person.  It actually had been my favorite daughter’s idea, to eat there. She couldn’t wait. Of course I had thought it a good idea, as well. When the dinner plates are cleared, that is usually when someone will “excuse” themselves from the table and go make the "secret" arrangements. 

It was at that exact moment that the favorite daughter excused herself to go to the ladies room. She had no more gotten out of sight, when my favorite son turns to me and says……

“Lets tell the waiter it’s Jessica’s birthday and they will come and sing happy birthday to her.” I am sure he knew that she had planned on summoning the birthday singers to give him the business! And with that a waiter walked by and forever more the dirty deed, was done.

My favorite daughter returned to the table, and just then, the singing crew came streaming over to our table. She must have thought that I had asked them to come and sing to her brother, while she was away. She had a smile on her face, and was waiting for the big sombrero to be place on her brother’s head, when, all at once the loud music started and plunk, that big sombrero (shaped like a 3 layer birthday cake)  was on her head!

She sat there politely and endured what was suppose to be “Happy Birthday”. Sang off key on purpose and seeming to never end! She was furious, in a quiet slow burning, sort of way. Man o mister! Where as, the two of us could not stop laughing.

She has spoke of that night, often, in the years that have passed. And I can’t say she is any less annoyed with me. But could it be that for a short time………….

I was her only Mother, just not her favorite Mother?

Oh my.


This would be the one recipe that is an absolute favorite of both my kids. I have posted this recipe before, but no one was reading this blog back then, so we will just pretend it is just like a new recipe! This recipe will surprise you. It is delicious and no one knows the secret ingredient but you.

The roasted nuts on top, are delicious!

Our favorite pork and bean bread aka, The Van Camps Loaf
325 F

1 c raisins
1 c boiling water

1 16 oz can pork and beans

2 c sugar
1/2 c oil
3 eggs
1 t vanilla

2 c flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda

1 c chopped walnuts, optional

Place the raisins in a small bowl, cover with the boiling water, set aside.

 Place the pork and beans in large mixing bowl, beat until beans have broken apart and the mixture is smooth.


 
Beat in the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.



Place dry ingredients, in a medium bowl, whisk to combine.


Add to bean mixture and combine gently.


Drain raisins, and squeeze them gently to remove as much water as possible. Add the raising and nuts if using to the batter, fold in.

Pour into 2 prepared loaf pans. Add more chopped nut for the top of the loaf, if desired. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until done in your oven. Cool in pans 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

Makes 2 loaves, one to enjoy and one to freeze or better yet one for a favorite son and one for a favorite daughter.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always thanks for stopping to visit, I appreciate it!

This post is being shared with:

Hearth n Soul @ a moderate life