Friday, December 31, 2010

December Culinary Smackdown - The Winner!

It was decided by a committee that the only fair way to choose a winner was by a random generation process. So I quickly got on the phone and ordered a representative from the Random Generator Company. I was informed immediately that her schedule was rather full today.

First she had to, get a pedicure.....

Oversee her veterinarian practice.....

cook for her family......

finish a photo shoot.....

and complete her next novel.......

Then she would arrive for the important hands on work. While waiting for the Random Generator representative to arrive, I had time to assemble the winners prize package.

 2 Vancouver USA tee shirts
1 pound of organic raisins
and a cinnamon grinder, for your
cooking and baking pleasure.

In addition I prepared the important paperwork and external parts needed by the Random Generator Company's representative, when selecting the winning entry.

In accordance with the Random Generator Company's guidelines, each entry will be written on a sheet of paper. The paper will be folded, several times, in order to hide the message and insure equal and fair treatment. The folded papers will be poured from one dish to the other, time after time, until when thoroughly and completely mixed, the lucky winner will be pulled from the bowl.

I had thought about calling in the local accounting firm of Moore, Good, and Plenti, but as it turns out, they were out of the office for the balance of the year. Celebrating and preparing for their upcoming busy season, tax time.  Concerned for the accuracy of the outcome, my concern was quieted when I realized that the Random Generator Company is above reproach. So I relaxed and poured another cup of coffee.

News Flash:  Word has just now been received, the Random Generator Company is in fact sending their best paper picker to Europe.....Europe? What happened to my house? For Pete's sake.....

I guess it is completely up to me. Lets review, in order of submission, the candidates:

Grandma Strecker's Old Fashion Mincemeat

 Aromatic Raisin Chutney
 Orange and raisin loaf

 New England Hermit Cookies

Dark Carrot Raisin Whole Wheat Muffins


Christmas Cake

Real Canadian Butter Tarts

Fresh Mango Cake with Raisins

Mama's Broccoli Salad

Carrot & Raisin Salad

Now for the exciting announcement you have all been waiting for, the winner is

Brenda's Canadian Kitchen!
winner, December 2010 Culinary Smackdown! 

Congratulations Brenda, I will be in contact soon! As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello!

sending out a big THANK YOU

To Joy of Kitchen Flavours, for this beautiful prize!

This is my prize for winning the November Smackdown, hosted by Joy at Kitchen Flavours, I cannot wait to start reading and cooking from this beautiful book. 

The linky is now closed for the December Smackdown, and the process of selecting the winner is in process.

Thank you Joy and to everyone that entered the December Smackdown.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Weekend Cat Blogging

The happiest cats don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have. (who will take care of this for me?)

 The idea is to create a mechanism that will force a habit (to give me treats!)

"We never know what is enough
until we know what’s more than enough".*
(Who have you listened to? I wanted treats, not chores!)

Good bye 2010, I'm leaving. 


This post was prepared for:
Weekend Cat Blogging @ sidewalk shoes

*Billy Holiday, jazz singer 

As always thanks so much for stopping by!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

December Culinary Smackdown - Showcase!

I definitely will need some help from my family to choose the winner, all of these are wonderful, take a look!

These photos are loaded in "google" preference, let me introduce 

 Carrot and Raisin Salad from Sage Trifle

 Grandma Streckers Homemade Mincemeat from Dinner with the Osborns

 Aromatic Raisin Chutney from Hella Delicious

 Orange and Raisin Loaf (ABM) from life and times of the 21st Century Housewife

 New England Hermit Cookies from ceo a's draiocht

 Dark Carrot Raisin WW muffins from This Chick Cooks

 Stollen from Brenda's Canadian Kitchen

 Christmas Cake from Louanne's Kitchen

 Real Canadian Butter Tarts from What's for Dinner?

 Fresh Mango Cake with raisins from Kitchen Flavours

Mama's Broccoli Salad from Sage Trifle

It is not too late to enter, the Smackdown will close on December 31st, the winner will be announced that evening. Thank you everyone for your entry.

Original Smackdown post and links to the recipes, found here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Very quickly, homemade gifts 2010

Showing off some of the homemade gifts I made this year.....

a simple greeting, to place in a small area.

knitted scarves, heavy duty for him, lacy for her.

an antique bottle, with a couples message. (I put gold curled ribbon inside the bottle to add depth)

this would be a "dust collector" but I like the message

the ancient game of "go" (Honey helped with this one)

a "low tech" dry wipe note pad!

a dry wipe goals list

a dry wipe menu planner (not a good photo, sorry)

 a rustic table runner, I have shown this one before, it is made with recycled tee shirts.

a basket with homemade mustard's, shown below

homemade vanilla and cinnamon extracts, raspberry thyme vinegar and a jar of rhubarb jam.

Thanks for letting me show off my crafts.

Monday, December 27, 2010

MFK Fisher's War Cake, How to cook in a time of war

When I returned to work this November, I found myself in an old yet distinguished building, built in 1863. It has been remodeled and updated per need and change of law, as years turned to decades and decades turned to centuries. This is home, to many people. Each of them with a past, personal history and stories to tell. These lives, also having been updated as life changed and personal decisions made, took effect. It is rare to find an unchanged person, for change is the only constant in this journey.

This building is owned and operated by the Oddfellows. Knowing the history of the International Order of the  Oddfellows, mandates that you be a kind person, who has a silent yet strong desire to serve others. The service you provide may be hands on, such as care giving, cooking or cleaning. Or you could be one of the necessary folks who process paper, enforce rules or oversee the day-to-day operations that a Senior Housing complex might need. All positions however, are service and caring orientated. I am one of those who works on the day-to-day operations, and lots of paperwork!

There is a woman who lives in this building; she is soft spoken, traveled and very kind. Anna walks her dog Lady several times a day and cares for the dog deeply. Lady is also in the older category, prone to falls and has at time simply fallen over. Lady’s sight is also failing, yet she “knows” where the treats are kept in the office I currently share. Lady, like the rest of us needs to be concerned about her weight, so her treats are broken in half, that way she gets “two” treats when she visits. I have yet to share this "tip" with those at home, I have concerns it might affect the cookie jar!

When I first began working, it was casually mentioned that Anna’s mother had written a book. I was at some point going to research that bit of information, to help me, get to know Anna better. I would then have a bit of knowledge, that I thought might act as a commonality for us to chat about, when she and Lady dropped by. Shortly after that I learned the title of the book, at that point I had enough information to help me in my search, and the rest as they say, is history.

St Helena, CA
My personal philosophy is that you should always be kind, because you never know to whom you are talking to. Not that all folks don’t deserve kindness, but some folks have very interesting histories that they bring along with them. However if you have not been kind from the beginning, it is very difficult to take back any unkindness when you find out something interesting about someone and then want to chat with him or her about it. And such is the case with Lady’s owner.

Remember all this started with a simple remark that a book had been written.

Oh do you want to know the book that was written? I must tell you right now; in actuality it is a book among many books written. The third book written from more than 20, in a lifetime lived with passion, hard work and some sharp witted humor. The book title was,

I must confess right here and now, I was not familiar with the title of this particular book. But I clearly knew of M. F. K. Fisher the writer. When I brought up the title of the book on Google search that evening, I was flabbergasted. I even shouted out, not my usual method of communication, to describe my enthusiasm! I was stunned and thrilled at the same time. For instance, what on earth would I do with this information?

Fortunately I already had had several enjoyable encounters with Anna and Lady to develop a very nice rapport. In a short time we had learned of several commonalities shared. I knew instantly I would want to write about this, yet also wanted permission from Anna, in order to do so. So I did what any bold person does, I asked for permission, and she said yes. Yes! When I got home I could not contain myself and told Honey all about it! 

"First we eat, then we do everything else."

On Christmas Eve my granddaughter and I paid a visit to Anna and Lady. We took a small gift of rhubarb jam and a clove studded orange pomander for Anna and a dog bone treat for Lady. We stayed only a brief time, as Anna had guests coming for dinner and there were tasks left to be done. During our stay, we also got to meet Mr. Elliott. A feisty apricot colored cat, with his own multi-story cat tower. My granddaughter was very interested in playing with Lady and Mr. Elliott, but in a short time we said our good-byes and made our way home to wrap presents.  

“People ask me: "Why do you write about food, and eating, and drinking? Why don't you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way the others do?" . . . The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry.”

Last House, Sonoma CA

I am excited for the opportunity to learn more about Anna and the life she lived. I already know from our Christmas Eve visit, that her daughter is a performer with an all woman circus (Circus Artemis). She has three grown children, two that live close by and one in Virginia. She is a mother, a grandmother, a sister and for me, now a friend.  There is more, as there always is, when learning about someone and the life they have lived. Alas this story today is simply an introduction, to my friend Anna. 
"When shall we live if not now?"
M.F.K. Fisher

MFK Fisher's War Cake
adapted from:
How to Cook a Wolf
350 degree oven
1/2 cup shortening - (note: you may use part bacon fat**)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon other spices (cloves, mace, ginger..)
1 cup chopped raisins or other dried fruit (prunes, figs, etc.)
1 cup sugar, white or brown
1 cup water (note: you can substitute coffee for part of the water)

Bring to a boil, cook 5 minutes. Cool thoroughly. 

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. 

When the raisin mixture has cooled, add sifted dry ingredients, mixing well. 

Turn into a loaf pan and bake 45 minutes or until done in your oven. Let cool 15 - 20 minutes then turn out from pan, if desire.

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

As always, thanks for stopping to say hello. I appreciate your visits more than you know.

This post is shared with:
Hearth n Soul Hop @ a moderate life

weekend cooking@beth fish reads

Tuesday Night Supper Club @ fudge ripple

** I adore bacon, yet have found that personally I do not care for the taste of the bacon fat in baked goods.