Saturday, December 4, 2010

Room with a View

It's been an interesting week, culminating with knee surgery last Wednesday.  Everything went without a hitch and now I sit confined to a 3' x 6' section of sofa.  On Tuesdsay, I dragged every entertaining thing to my future roost that I could lay my hands on and am now surrounded by books, magazines, a portable radio, needlework, my netbook (which I'm on now) and the remote...when I can coax it from hubby. 

Excuse the giant purple foot...this is my corner of the world right now...

Some of the week's reading...
I love, love, love Ted Dekker's work.  Often a little dark and edgy, but usually has a hidden 'moral of the story' somewhere near the end.

Here is my room with a view...or view from my sofa...I parked myself right next to the window so I could see the beautiful snow.  (I can say that since I don't have to drive in it for a while ;-))

I think it's time to go...pain medication and typing on this little contraption don't seem to mix well.  Just wanted to update the friends and family who may be checking in that all is well and fine here.   Look through the other posts, especially the ones under Relaxation/Recreation for the low-down on what we've been up to this year and have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas and New Year's!! 

I'm back to my books and naps....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Steamed Pudding

While looking for something to make for the holiday dessert table, I stumbled across this recipe in my pile of "gotta try this" print outs.  Here's what ensued!
Caramel Apple Steamed Pudding...courtesy of Martha Stewart and co...

(Why do I keep thinking of Charles Dickens?)
Though this was very labor intensive, it would be a smashing addition to either Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner.  While I didn't think the batter was that tasty (yep, I'm a bowl scraper), the "pudding" turned out better than I'd hoped!  Very moist and not overly sweet...and when finished it actually resembled the photo Martha provided!  Amazing.
All being said, I would make this for company...but will stick to my catalog of holiday pies for now.  I just don't have the time necessary to pull this rich creation off and not be stressed out of my mind (time-wise).

 You can find the recipe here and an Amazon link for the pudding mold I have.

So folks, have a marvelous Thanksgiving and enjoy every moment with your friends and family.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Grilled Blue Cheese and Bacon Sandwich

Rummaging through the refrigerator after church today seemed like it was going nowhere...until I found a package of sliced Blue Cheese I was struggling to use up.  Hm-m-m-m, thought I, what am I ever going to do with this?  I turned...found hubby grilling up a cheese sandwich at the stove...bells and whistles starting going off...and out of the fridge also came the bacon, mayo and rye bread.  I was on to something.
(Post Script...After checking around the internet...ends up I'm NOT so original!  Jokes on me.  :P 
But if you're still interested in a scaled down, no frills version...this is it...)

Grilled Blue Cheese and Bacon Sandwich (plain & simple)

Rye Bread
2 slices Bacon, fried
Blue Cheese, pre-sliced -->(or slice it pretty thinly yourself)

Spread the mayonnaise on the Rye bread, add blue cheese slices to cover one side.  Top with the bacon and pull the other slice of Rye over to make your sandwich.  Now butter both sides and grill.
(Aren't those dried cranberries beautiful? )
Blue cheese can be a pretty strong tasting dairy product, so I wasn't at all sure this was going to work, but it was really good!  I think the bacon helps temper the blue cheese somewhat.  After the fact, I thought adding some dried cranberries here and there in the sandwich would be pretty good and ended up popping the little red jewels in the sides to test my theory.  Ends up they are pretty good too, in moderation!

So that's it for today's experiment. Later!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cauliflower Soup

Stopping by with a quick tip and recipe tonight....
If you're anything like me, you buy a beautiful, cream-colored cauliflower with every intention of using it right away.  But gets in the way and it eventually finds it's way to the very back of the refrigerator....lonely and forgotten.  By the time you discover the poor, neglected vegetable, it's starting to show it's age...and it ain't so pretty anymore...(with this I can sympathize!).
Usually, I end up sitting there with a knife, paring all the blemishes off the surface, making a HUGE mess.  Tonight, however, I had a brain storm...which doesn't happen often.  Why not use a potato peeler to "peel" away the brown bits?  So with my Zyliss potato peeler in hand I went to town, and surprise, worked!!...beautifully!  No more chipping away at the cauliflower head, just a few passes with the peeler and I'm done!  Yay!  I realize that I'm surely not the first person to come up with this little tip, but I get excited over the small things. ;)

Now that the cauliflower is peeled and usable again, what to do with it....?
(I peeled the head as a whole before I broke it up)
How about some lovely Cauliflower Soup?  This recipe came to me from a friend I worked with years ago and is one of our favorite soup recipes.

Cauliflower Soup

1/4 c. onion, chopped
1/4 c. butter
2 T. flour
4 c. milk
1 t. salt
dash pepper
1 medium head cauliflower, cooked and coarsely chopped
1 c. shredded, sharp cheddar cheese

Saute onion in butter until tender.  Blend in flour, cook 3-4 minutes without browning.  Add milk, seasonings and cauliflower.  Cook until smooth and slightly thick, stirring frequently.  Just before serving, add shredded cheese and stir until melted.

Serves 4-6

1.  I chop the cauliflower before I boil it (about 5 minutes), throwing in all the bits, then drain well.
2.  Be careful when adding the flour.  I have yet to make the 3 minute mark.  It seems to want to brown very I just mix it in well with the butter/onion and move on to the milk addition.  It's fine.

Super good, super fast.  Serve with cornbread and a nice tossed salad for a satisfying meal (that note came from my friend...and she was right).

Just another recipe for a cold fall/winter evening.  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Satan's Walnut Cake

While flipping through the pages of Grandma's cookbook, I found this irresistible tidbit.
Now, I don't mean irresistible in the sense that ooo-wee...that sure looks good!  More like...hey, it's the day before Halloween, and who could resist trying this one out! 

So, I got up this morning, assembled all the ingredients and went for it, staying as close to the original "flavor" of the recipe as I could, both in taste and spirit.

Now, I won't rewrite this recipe, because frankly (and sorry, Gram), I don't think it's worth making again.
I need to be honest.  It was far too dense for my tastes and really, pretty bland.  I was hoping for something really amazing...if not a little unusual, but nope..nada, nuh-uh.

(Update--May 2011...After watching Episode 12 of Cook's Country [Season 2, Historical Cakes, on PBS], I discovered that a Satan Cake is related to the Red Velvet Cake!  Makes sense, both have cocoa in them, but not enough for that rich chocolate flavor we all crave....and obviously, Satan's Cakes don't have the enormous amount of red food coloring!  Hum?!  Cook's Country has a nice Red Velvet Cake recipe along with others.  You will be required to register for access though, recipes are then free.)

What I am going to recommend to you today, as compensation, are the 2 books that helped me through this recipe.
When I found I didn't have cake flour on hand, and my hubby was monopolizing the computer, I remembered I had this reference book in my cookbook library, "Substituting Ingredients, An A to Z Kitchen Reference, by Becky Sue Epstein and Hilary Dole Klein".  Sure enough, it had the information I needed and I was able to make the necessary adjustments to the recipe.
The next book I used for finding a Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting recipe was "The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook".  I'm posting an Amazon link that includes a photo for this book.  It is my all-time favorite cookbook.  I received it as a wedding gift 25 years ago from a friend who was a professional chef, and he had high praise for it's contents! I have used this book so much, that I actually wore the first one out, and had to buy another.  In fact, I'm thinking about buying one or two more, just to stash away for the future!!  It is my 'go-to' bible.  I can't say enough good things about it.

So having disrespected my grandma's recipe in favor of others', I think I'll sign off.  The guilt is just too much.

But before I is a glimpse of how the cake turned out...
It has a definite 1940's look to it, don't you think?

Yes, those are Pecans and not Walnuts.  Maybe this cake was properly named, it seemed to torment me at every turn...and did not fulfill the promises whispered so sweetly in my ear...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Green Bean Stew

After another sleepless night last night, I thought a batch of comfort food would be just the ticket to soothe me into Lullaby Land tonight.  Hubby had recently put in a request for a test run on one of Grandma's recipes, so I picked up the notebook and started skimming through it's pages.
And since it's getting late here, I'm determined to keep it as short and sweet as possible (was that an audible sigh of relief I heard?).

So here is Grandma's original recipe:
Here is my rewrite:
Green Bean Stew

1 T. bacon grease
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
2 c. green beans, cut into 1" lengths
2 c. potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
6 c. hot water
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk (optional)

1 lb. hamburger
1 egg
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. salt
1 c. flour

Melt the bacon grease in a 4 quart sauce pan or pot.  Add garlic and onion, sauteing until translucent.

Add green beans, potatoes and hot water, bring to a boil.

 Make meatballs, mixing hamburger, egg, salt, pepper and flour.  Shape into tiny (slightly <1") balls and drop into boiling stew.  

Cook until beans are tender, seasoning well with salt and pepper.  If desired, you may add a 12oz can of evaporated milk right before serving for a more creamy soup.
Without evaporated milk

With evaporated milk
My Notes:
1.  Don't be afraid of the bacon grease, it really does add "something" in the background flavor.
2.  Make sure you season the stew with salt and pepper, it's a little bland otherwise.
3.  My hubby LOVED the meatballs.  I'd never "constructed" any quite this way before.  They held together wonderfully while cooking and had a very different texture from other meatballs we've had.
4.  I was able to make about 80 meatballs!
5.  Maybe adding a pinch of an herb would be good in thyme or...???
6.  I preferred the evaporated milk..made it a little richer.
7.  I served this tonight with Triscuits, goat cheese and cut up red peppers...and was very satisfied.

As you've probably guessed by now, I'm a down home cook.  Nothin' fancy here.  I like bacon (and it's flavorful grease), cream, half & half and butter.  My cholesterol is 151 and my blood pressure is 110/70.  I'm allowed.
Anything I post can always be adjusted to your liking, it won't hurt my feelings.  In fact, I'd love to hear about the alterations you've made!!

Time for me to pick a few things up around here and then do some major crashing on the sofa...
And then.....z-z-z-z-z-z-z   Good-night everybody!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Baked Pork, Saurkraut and Potatoes

It's been quite a stretch since I've posted anything.  Well, anything of substance...
I needed an escape and found my way here tonight.

With the mild weather of Fall in full swing, it seemed like a good time to post one of my grandmother's recipes.  It is a particular favorite in our family and thankfully so, since it only takes minutes to throw together!

It is one of the recipes found in my grandma's personal cookbook...

...which she typed and assembled during WWII, using the office typewriter in her spare time.  There were two volumes, of which I have copied the entire contents, making one.  I understand from my mom that Grandma used to tear pages out, to use or lend, and many never found their way back, so the book is not complete. You will find that many of the recipes in her book will have a very German flavor to them.  Grandma was a first generation American, the only child of  German immigrants and it showed in her food stylizations!  I can still remember walking over to visit her and being offered Liverwurst Sandwiches...often.  While it wasn't my cup of tea,  I will still buy a roll of liverwurst to munch on just to get the food memory associated with the taste.

So let's make some memories of our own...

***My notes:  This is my grandmother's original here is my rewrite....

Baked Pork, Sauerkraut and Potatoes

Pork ---> (whatever you have or like, anything will work in any favorite...boneless country-style ribs)
2-3 (15 oz) cans Bavarian Style Sauerkraut---> (I use the Libby's caraway packed variety)
Potatoes, cut up into chunks--->  (however many you have on hand or like....sometimes I don't use any at all!!)

Place the pork in the bottom of a dutch oven

Layer the potatoes on top

Place the sauerkraut, juice and all, over the potatoes and pork.  Make sure the sauerkraut covers the potatoes nicely.  This will keep them from drying out!

Now cover and place in a 350 degree oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  (I lean toward the 2 hours mark)

Remove from oven, lift lid and smell the goodness...

You've just made the perfect Fall meal and the hardest thing you had to do was peel and cut a few potatoes!

On a side note...this recipe has already made some memories in my household.  Two years ago, when the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through (still a Category 1), everyone lost power, some for upwards of 2 weeks!  We were one of the first households (at 3 days in the dark) to get our power back and the first thing I did was fix two huge pots of this meal and invite many of our still-in-the-dark friends over for something hardy.

Thank you for taking the time to type a treasure on your old Underwood, Grandma.  I miss you.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Basket Weaving...Not for Sissies

To those who have more 'craftiness' in their little fingers than I have in my entire body....more power to you...I'm jealous.  You know who you are.  Halloween comes and you've got the whole place decked out like something from the  Haunted Mansion at Disneyland or Christmas rolls around and there just aren't enough hours in the day for you to finish decorating those sugar cookies with royal icing...and you like it!!!  Me, I just try to survive it...

Yesterday I took a basket weaving class with my friend, thought it could be fun, isn't this what they stereotypically prescribed for calming the folks who had a 'touch of nerves' not all that long ago?  Well, I had a 'touch of nerves' when I was done, and I give tremendous credit to those of you who are actual basketeers. 

From start...
To finish...
And everything in between...

...I was a basket case (pun intended).
I felt out of control the entire time, constantly looking to the instructor or my friend for guidance.  I don't like that helpless feeling.  I'm not the damsel type.  Though seriously, I could see where, if you had a clue, on a nice warm day, with a pitcher of homemade lemonade could be a sweet way to wile away a lazy afternoon.

I'm not sure I'll pursue basket weaving any further.  I'm really more of a needle worker and this just seemed to make my brain hurt.  I wish I could get the knack though...they would make lovely gifts for Christmas.  Or...maybe something in which to place a jar of homemade jam and scone mix with a cute little get well card!  Hey!!!  Maybe I do have a little creativity...buried deep...very deep...

Anyone interested in giving basket weaving a are a couple sites run by a gal in the know...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Easy Fruit Cobbler

Here is another recipe that I inherited with the husband.  It too comes from his grandmother and is just too good not to share.  A goes together in minutes with no taste sufferage!  The only problem with the recipe is it's one of those...a pinch here and a dab there kind.  No rules, just eye ball it, my dear!

Grandma B.'s Fruit Cobbler

Fruit of your choice, sliced (I used fresh peaches)
about 4-6 T. Bisquick Baking Mix (I know it's kinda cheating... but that's what Grandma used!)
1/3 c. Sugar (adjust to your liking)
1/8-1/4 c. Canola Oil (or any light oil, I've even used light olive oil!)
Pam Spray (to grease the bowl)

I had 3 peaches sitting on the counter that I knew weren't going to get used in time, so...I decided to make Grandma's cobbler.  They would make just enough for a single night's dessert.

First thing you do is slice the fruit, peel as necessary.  You can use anything you have.  Frozen is fine, too.

Next, you'll want to sugar and cinnamon the fruit.  This is a matter of taste.  My husband likes his cobbler very sweet, so I put a lot of sugar in ours.  After mixing, place in a greased oven safe casserole or bowl.

Now for the batter...when Grandma says 4-6T. Bisquick....she's not pulling your leg....she means 4-6 of those great big spoons our moms used to use for serving! ...Pile it high...
You'll have to guess a little based on how much fruit you have.  But you can't really go wrong.
Add the 1/3 c. sugar to the Bisquick.

Add milk to make a medium batter (like a pancake batter)...

Stir in the oil and it'll look more like this....

Now pour the batter over the fruit...

 Looks yummy, doesn't it?  Now bake 1/2 hour at 400*, then turn the oven down to 350* and bake 1/2 hour more (a total of one hour).  That's it!  And you get this....

My husband likes his fruit cobbler served with half and half, I'll eat it plain!  It's so good.  The beauty is you can't really mess this up too much.  If you have a lot of fruit, then make a little more batter to go with it, no prob.  It's all "eye-balled" anyway and I've never had it turn out bad.

**Note: Try any fruit you have in the orchard or freezer, Blackberries are my favorites!  
             Heck, I've even used rinsed canned peaches! 

Hope you enjoyed another peek into my family's cookbook.  I'll be posting a lot more family recipes this winter!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Barbie Was Right...

On a wild hare I decided to take a beginning Algebra class at our local community college.  Everyone assured me that it would be no problem, that it's like riding a bike and comes back to you.  HA!
I just finished the second week of class and have decided that, while my family and friends have a deep and abiding affection for me....they lied.

 (view off one of the sky bridges heading into the outer perimeter of the college....get that "math teminology"?)
(view off the other side of sky bridge...downtown Dayton)

For the record, the last time I had a math class was freshman year of high school.
I was a music and drama geek, where math wasn't a requirement in any perceived future. Therefore, as soon as the requirements for graduation were met...math and I were no longer speaking.  My parents didn't have any beefs with that.  Fine.  They believed that girls didn't really need math anyway.  Girls should have occupations like beautician or secretary or married mothers.  Get the picture?  WWII old fashioned values in play.  No problem, but it didn't serve the generation I was growing up in.  There were bigger things out there for women.
So I went on my merry way, oblivious to the true future in store for me.

Now here I sit, not singing on a stage and knowing no math.  Struggling to remember 2(4)=8.
My husband, thank goodness, is a math whiz and without his tutelage I would be lost.
I just want to pass this class.  I'm not shooting for the lowest common denominator here, but college moves faster than my old dying brain cells can handle.  If somehow I get through this...maybe I'll think about going on and eventually getting an HTML certification.  It interests me.  Though it'll be a long while.

I guess the moral of the story is...
Girls, Barbie was right...math is hard.  Don't listen to the blowhards out there that say it isn't.  The truth is, it's hard for nearly everyone.  It takes long hours of work and practice.  You are learning another language, after all, don't let it scare you.  It's just another season of your life, one of study and you can do it!
Don't be like me, do it while you're young, your future will be so-o-o rewarding and bright.

So, if I seem a little sporadic in my postings, I hope you'll forgive and understand.  The fish I am frying are monsters and require more of my attention. ><> +  ><> + ><> + ><> + ><> + ><> =  6 ><>

Update-January 16, 2010:   Just a post script...
I passed the class! Not only did I pass, I got the highest "A" in the class! Woo-hoo! I guess my friends didn't lie to me after all. Thanks to my genius husband for filling in all the gaps while listening to my junior high-like crying. Love you, babe.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Best City Festival of the Summer

We like city festivals.  They are free, fun and give you something to do for an entire afternoon...if you count driving time.  After having been to many this summer, I can honestly say we ended the festival season (at least for us) with a bang.

My husband likes to print out a "menu" of which city is holding what type of festival each weekend.  His list includes, type of festival, costs, directions (with mileage), and what we're likely to see as far as booths and activities.
To be perfectly honest, we've been more than a little disappointed in the quality.  Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of effort evident, but they have been ALL the same.  Same carnival, same food vendors, same music, and rarely did they have anything displayed that remotely had anything to do with their festival name!  Disappointing.
Until-l-l-l we came to the quaint little town of Lithopolis, OH yesterday.  You could have knocked us over with a bee hive!  A festival that lived up to it's name....Lithopolis Honeyfest, Glory bee!!!  We were beside ourselves with joy and honey. Pooh would have been envious.

They had a wonderful vendor area.  I'm not talking crocheted potholders and cheesy Buckeye jewelry...there were honest to goodness honey products!  Unbelievable.  What wasn't honey, was nice quality homemade goods, such as copper lawn/wind chime-y products, a 'started-it-in-my-kitchen"-type spice company, a stained glass hobbyist, etc...

There must have been at least a half a dozen vendors selling honey, complete with taste testing and we indulged, after which my honey chose to buy a 32 oz. squeeze jar of summer honey from Honeyrun Farm

The festival had a Honey Cook Off and sale...

Actual bee hives scattered around...

Bee Keeping lectures...

Wine and Mead tasting...
Heads up on the wine tasting're paying $2 a ticket, and a ticket gets you one 2 oz. sample.  If you like something, buy it while you're there, it'll be gone when you go back later.  Happened to us, so no Honey Mead in our cupboards....(insert sad face smileycon here).

It was a wonderfully fun afternoon, although I was a little down in the mouth that I didn't get to see the bee bearded man.

I do wish to make one honorable mention here.  While the International Sunflower Festival was pretty much like all the others, they at least made an effort to throw in some Sunflowers, even if they did get all wilted the first day...I'm just sayin'...
Effort noted Frankfort Ohio.
Final thoughts & a slight detour to grumpy town:
Cities and towns...if your gonna hold a festival, please, PLEASE don't string us along thinking that you're going to actually have some of what you're boldly advertising present.  It's not nice to make us drive (sometimes) hours to your town and find that we've been had.  If you have a Radish Festival (just an example), then by gum, I want to see radishes everywhere! and in your food and vendor booths OR don't call your town/festival...Radish Capitol of the Midwest!!...please.

Pooh and I will now go find our hunny jar and do some bonding...
Oh, and good job Lithopolis!

 As my Uncle likes to say...
'Nuff Sed.