Sunday, November 28, 2010

Today is Sunday Cafe

I have been busy getting the last minute supplies purchased for the remaining gifts that I will be making for Christmas. That with the busyness of Thanksgiving, meant that Sunday Cafe came up rather quickly. I was asked if I wanted to cancel, and I replied with that most wonderful answer a Mother can offer, I answered with a question! My question was, do you want me to cancel due to your own schedule and time needs?  The answer was no. We shall have a scaled back menu, with only one entree.

Sunday Cafe menu:

Meatloaf, a family standby and Honey's favorite.

Meatloaf often times does not photo well, but tastes great. 

Baked Potato bar, with topping choices. (update) grated cheese, butter, sour cream, homemade fire roasted salsa.

Tossed Salad, I especially like serving tossed salad when there is company sharing the meal. We/I never seem to eat it enough when it is just the two of us.

I have begun asking "who wants salad?" before tossing, I new get more folks eating salad. 

Relish plate and doodads (I really like that word, it can be used for so many things!), this will include the green onion wraps by request. I also have some marinated mushrooms, carrot and celery sticks and olives. (update) we also made a cream cheese with pesto and dried tomatoes to serve with pita chips and flax seed brown rice tortilla style chips. 

Applesauce cake, in the oven now! I simmered the leftover baked apples, mashed them and use that as the applesauce. It smells so good.

This was serve yourself style, and whip cream for those that wanted.
A simple meal, shared around the table.

As always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your visits.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I got "learned up" this Thanksgiving

Before November 25, 2010 I was a different person. I had a complete transformation from an uneducated know it all, to learned up adult. Yes it is true, I learned all about stuffing and dressing. You see I was of the misguided opinion that only stuffing would do. I looked forward every year to that most delicious of treats, turkey stuffing. I would buy the biggest bird possible, because the bigger the bird, the bigger the cavity for stuffing. I would be worried about what to do with the leftover stuffing mixture that would not fit in the bird, because it clearly would be second rate, not having had the opportunity to bake in the protected environment of the turkey. Turkey real estate is to be respected. Or so I thought.

Separately I always made a pan of oyster dressing for those in the family that enjoy that sort of thing. I could only do what was possible by the "a little of this and a little of that" method, since I don't eat or enjoy oysters. And since it was contaminated, oh sorry, flavored with oysters, I never ever gave it another thought about not being baked in the protected territory of the bird.  Each year the oyster lovers in the family always enjoyed the dressing, and of course I was glad they did. My only real change was less sage, as I was fairly sure they actually wanted to taste the oysters!

This year we made another change to our family holiday traditions. Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner will be rotated between the daughters in the family. They each have homes they are proud of and this will give each an opportunity to put their own spin on holidays and share in hostessing.

This year started with Thanksgiving at the home of the Lovely Jess. 

 Christmas dinner will be at the home of the Family Educator, my lovely daughter in law.

Then next year it will be reversed. With these new traditions came some drama and tragedy, excuse me, change regarding my beloved stuffing. You see there was no turkey real estate in my kitchen, I did not cook the turkey.............

I had no choice but to continue and to make the best dressing possible, because clearly there would be no stuffing. I made sure to use homemade bread cubes, that had been carefully cut into cubes and oven toasted.

And homemade corn bread, also cubed and toasted. I had homemade turkey stock to use as the liquid, and even used a mortar and pestle to crush leaf sage into rubbed sage. I saute'd the onion and garlic in butter and carefully diced the celery. I made sure it was not too dry, and then I carefully beat a couple of eggs into some broth and stirred that in right before placing the pan in the oven to bake.

And you know what?

That was the best dressing I have ever eaten! And I think I like dressing better than stuffing. Also there was no worrying about what to do with anything that did not fit in the bird, because it all fits in the pan. Another plus is that the the bird can be roasted at a higher temperature, to get wonderful deep golden brown drippings for the second most delicious treat of Thanksgiving, gravy.

Whew, this was a hard lesson. But I feel so accomplished and I just have one question.......

Can I get a diploma for this?

PS, we also had pie

As always thanks for stopping by,
I appreciate your visits.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, wishing you ........

a warm and happy home,

surrounded by those you love,

making memories, lots of memories,

along with a shared meal,

because there is no place like

and love,
that is what it is all about.

from our home to yours, have the best Thanksgiving ever!

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

… 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.
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

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My philosophy on cookies, and a request

Cookies, cookies and more cookies. Is there any other time of year, for such a cookie buzz? At Christmas time, cookie plates are a tradition, and I love tradition! Cookie exchanges have been around and enjoyed for years. They are also a good idea, for two reasons. It is fun to get together with friends and family, especially other folks just as busy as you are. And this is a great way to visit and accomplish something in the process, not that simply visiting, would not be enough! Think of a cookie exchange as an current day, quilting bee, only involving food. Specifically cookies.

Make sure you are stocked with all the supplies you will need for cookie day!

Currently the 12 weeks of cookies blog hop can be joined here. Avril is an avid blogger and from the photos on her site, a serious cook, as well! Then there is the cookie baker extraordinaire, Rocquie makes thousands of cookies every year. She shares all that right here on her blog Sage Trifle.  Many years ago I hosted a cookie exchange of the usual type, where everyone brings a dozen (baked) cookies for each of the attending, and we all trade. Then a couple of years ago I hit upon the idea of a cookie exchange of a different kind. The idea of making the dough and sharing was good in theory, but not in practice, only because of available space. However.......

I still like the idea of a cookie exchange for homemade cookie dough. But this year I think we will bring prepared and pre-portioned dough, for exchanging.  This way the dough is easily stored while we visit and get caught up with one another. The dough, when taken home, may be baked or stored as needed. The result? Fresh cookies, as needed. I believe "fresh cookies, as needed" is my new obsession. I am not obsessed with cookies or eating cookies. I am obsessed with the production of homemade cookies, and the ability to bake a small batch, or a single sheet of cookies as needed. Has anyone else noticed the continued use of cookies and need, in the same thought or sentence? Maybe eating them is my obsession............

When I look through some of my older cookbooks, my current obsession is not new. Cooks, Moms and Grandmothers have been devising ways to have fresh, homemade cookies on demand for many years. Slice and bake cookies come to mind, immediately. This product now available in the dairy case at your local market, was invented by Mom. With current appliances, frozen cookie dough works well also. You can make the dough, divide into as many portions as the insists the recipe makes (sorry I had to use the word insist, I never seem to get that many cookies) and freeze. If you use a square or rectangle container or shape, all you do is thaw (in the fridge during the day, works great), cut into 12 equal pieces, pinch the corner a bit to round the edges, and bake. I even wrote about that here , and it works great too.

I have even made dough, scooped it into balls, rolled in sugar or cinnamon sugar for a bit more spice, then froze the balls on a cookie sheet. When cookies are needed or dessert or to take a plate over to someone in need (hmmm, that word again), you simple place your cookie balls on a prepared cookie sheet and when the oven is ready, bake them up. A wonderful side benefit of cookie dough in the freezer instead of already baked cookies is space, dough takes up a lot less space. Freezer space is expensive in this household!

And now for the request, what are your cookie tips? Have you come up with more and or better ideas for fresh cookies as needed? If you have please share with me, for I am but a poor yet hard working cookie loving woman in search of cookie happiness! I can't wait for this years cookie (dough) exchange.

As always thanks for stopping by and playing along! I appreciate it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

But he LIKES those boxed potatoes or cooking up some peace and harmony

Tonight we are having boxed potatoes as part of our dinner, yes you know the type. They contain a dried cheese-like ingredient, that cooks up to a bright orange sauce. This (magic?) powder when mixed with water, milk, butter and heat, makes what is considered to be cheese sauce. The box actually states you may use butter or margarine, but I ask you, how bad do you want your dinner to be?

I have, or had a kitchen that was built to cook from boxes. That is until we brought in the hutch that holds all the jars of healthy pantry goods. Like beans, pasta, whole grains and dried fruit. The kitchen is still not large enough, yet I have grown tired of being reminded that you cannot get more into the same amount of space. I keep trying however, and every now and again, I score a little bit of more.

We, and I use that word very loosely, because it really means Honey, have done a lot of work in the house and to the house. Again let me clarify, that "we" when used in connection to physical work on the structure, or having to do with wiring, plumbing or on the end of a paint brush, really refers to Honey. But we sure have done a good job, don't you think (wink, wink)? I happen to be a super duper cleaner-upper, and work hard in that role and others.

We don't like boxed food. And let me clarify, that "we" when used in connection to prepared foods, convenience foods, and artificial foods in any form, really would be me. But Honey loves everything to do with convenience foods and boxed mixes. Artificial flavor, is one of his favorites!

To rehydrate a box of potatoes is, showing that I care. And I must say, it is not easy for me to do. It does not give any feeling of accomplishment, except in that he likes them. I do not eat them, and unlike fresh potatoes, nothing from a box reheats well. But I digress, because......

Part of making a happy home, is keeping peace and harmony, as long as the price is not too steep.

Like occasionally making boxed potatoes. That is not too steep. 

Eating them is.

Personally I choose to not use prepared foods, that decision was made for me and by me. Each and everyone can and should make their own decision regarding the use of packaged foods. Please don't misunderstand, I eat prepared foods, everyone does. If you eat out, you eat prepared foods. It is very difficult to find a cafe or restaurant that makes everything from scratch, and I must say, I am not certain I could afford it. Not if I also want to save for retirement!

I believe that to cover the most important items is best, even if you must let a few small items slip in through the back door. For instance:

1.  we use organic dehydrated cane juice sugar. But I know that the jar of Lingonberry preserves from IKEA contains white sugar. Do I stop eating (and enjoying!) those preserves? No, I accept that they are different from what I make.

2.  we do not eat Crisco, but that jar of JIF (my favorite peanut butter, it must be the added molasses) contains a tiny amount. Have I switched to another brand? Not as yet, although the Lovely Jess has indicated I need to! More than once, I might add.

3.  we have candy in the house, it is not homemade and it is not free of artificial colors. Will I stop buying M&M's for Honey, no I won't. And truth be told, I eat peanut M&M's when I need a delicious sweet burst of energy.

4.  we also keep frozen pizzas in the house, the crust is not whole grain, and there is a long list of "ingredients" for the sauce. Some of them don't sound like the foods we should be eating, but will I stop purchasing those pizzas? No, as bad as they might be, some nights they are dinner.

I am sure there is more, but for Pete's sake, confession is really hard work!

The things I have succeeded in are, healthy fats, no bleached foods (flour and sugar), using more whole grains, make as much from scratch as is possible. Also beans, beans and more beans, and using bone broth.

The things I am still working on, would be more organic food. I  plan on getting on board with the "dirty dozen" for organic produce, this year.  I would like to return to grass fed beef, and free range chickens for eggs.

So tonight we had boxed potatoes. Honey loved them and he is happy watching a documentary on John Adams, as I sit here working. There is more tomorrows and speaking for me, I look forward to peace and harmony, even if I can't eat the potatoes!

As always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your time.

this post is shared with:

Hearth and Soul Hop @ a moderate life

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