Monday, October 20, 2014

Christening Day

 

When families are spread across the country, a christening is a grand reason for everyone to get together. All of us. That's a rare occurrance. Baby Girl had her special day last weekend. She wore the dress I made when Little Sister was christened a few years back. And the cap? It has been in our family for generations. What a precious keepsake for us. As precious as the memories of the day.

Baby Girl was good through the entire service. You never know how that is going to go. No tears or shrieking, thankfully. The only crying we know about was from the lady right behind us who told us she cried when Mommy and Big Sister sang the beautiful christening song.


It was a quick trip for us, but we did squeeze in a trip to the Crystal Bridges museum for their current art exhibit, "State of the Art" just minutes after we arrived. It was amazing, even though we were pulled through it at a fast pace by a four-year-old who didn't understand "gazing." The art was wide-ranging in style. I was particularly interested in their fiber-related exhibits—like this tunnel of handmade afghans.


There was another installation of crocheted pieces put together into a sculpture. I love that artists see the world through different eyes than most of us and then share that vision.


There were a few granite sculptures, too. Love the detail in this sculpted sewing machine.


There was a collection of knitted birds, too.
Our race through the museum only gave me time to snap a very few photos.


The weather was cool enough last weekend that Baby Girl got to wear the cap and sweater I had sent to her a couple of weeks earlier. I love seeing these girls in things that I made just for them. (Waiting for a photo of Big Sister in her new gray cowl. ~hint hint~) Baby Girl is too little to know about "handmade" but I hope she appreciated that it was soft and it was warm.


There was a little grandmother time, too. Big Sister was there, but being the typical teen, she was busy with her own things. On Sunday we did get to hear her sing (along with Mommy) for the baby's christening. And I had an email from her yesterday telling me that she had a good audition and made it into all-region choir! Congratulations to her!


Then our couple of days passed and it was time to turn around and drive nearly 1,000 miles back home.  Bless Daddy-O who had to drive all the way there AND back in the rain!



It was so bad coming home that we stopped for the night when we weren't so very far from home. But driving in the dark, and in the rain, and in the fog was more than he felt like doing. Plus, we got to enjoy the fall colors for a bit from our hotel window the next morning.



Now we are home and unpacked. The laundry is nearly done. It's time for me to check the gown before I hand wash it and pack it away for another time.







Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's About The Yarn


The pie class last weekend in Atlanta wasn't the only thing we did on Saturday. After that, Jessica (also a knitter) took me to Eat.Sleep.Knit. in nearby Smyrna. Oh, my goodness. The yarn choices were overwhelming. There is no way photos can show how much yarn they stock. We had fun looking and wishing and, of course, buying. I had made a list ahead of time, so I did keep my new yarn acquisitions to a reasonable limit. (Pssst....you can order from them online, too.)


Yarn: Berroco Comfort ~ Turquoise
Needles: size 8

Before I let myself start with any of the luscious new yarns, I finished this baby blanket. So what if the baby is now six months old? When Baby Girl was born, I only lacked 8 more rows. And it took this long to finish it. Right in time for cold weather. Maybe my timing is just right after all. She is too little to know, but wrapping her in this blanket is like a big hug from me. We live so far apart and this is one way I can feel a little closer.


Pattern:  Sock Recipe: A Good Plain Sock (from Knitting Rules)
Yarn: Regia World Ball Colors (Italy)
Needles: Size 2

I know it isn't Halloween yet, but Christmas is showing up in the stores at an alarming rate. Which means it is time to think about starting any gift knitting. Daddy-O asked me for a pair of Christmas socks soon after I first learned to knit socks. It took me some time to find a "Christmas" yarn. Then it took me another year or so to start the sock. But he shall have Christmas socks this year!

Socks are great travel knitting. At least the leg and the foot parts are. I'm done with the heel, so this sock is ready to finish on a long car trip that starts soon. (I discovered after I started knitting that my Christmas yarn is really part of a series of world flag yarns. These are the colors of the flag of Italy.)


I came across this letter yesterday as I was cleaning out drawers. My Christmas gift last year was an almost-finished pair of mitts, along with the letter. And I understood. (She did it! She finished them. The mitts were indeed done before winter was over.) The best part of this gift—the letter and the mitts—was that my very busy granddaughter (she's in middle school) used her valuable time for me.

Bookmark this unfinished gift letter now. Just in case you need it. Remember that you really do need to finish the gift, though. <grin>

So, where are the recipes this week? I have been using things from my freezer. Dishes I cooked earlier and saved for a crazy week. This was that week.


Monday, October 6, 2014

A Day At Pie Shop


I love living in the country but a trip to the city is exciting, too. As long as I know I'm coming home when the traffic has overwhelmed me. I went to Atlanta over the weekend for a visit with Jessica. We were attending a pie making class first thing on Saturday morning. 


The temperature was crisp and cool when we arrived at Pie Shop in Buckhead. Mims, the owner and instructor, had everything set out and ready for us to begin. (I think I like cooking where someone else does all the before and after parts.)


The pie of the day was apple pie. A perfect choice for a fall day.  We each found a place at the work table, ready to get to work.


As we worked, we learned about pie-making basics. For the pie crust (understandably, she didn't give us her signature recipe,) choose a flour with a lower gluten flour, such as White Lily. Makes better crust than flours like King Arthur with a higher gluten content. Those flours are better for baking yeast breads. Her choice for a fat was unsalted butter.


We learned about rolling out the crust—flip it over each time as you rotate it. And be sure to lift the pin off the dough just before you get to the edge. If you roll all the way to the edge, that part will be too thin.


Getting the crust into the pan is simple if you fold it over a couple of times before you move it. When you place the bottom crust in the pan, don't press it in—just drop the pan onto the countertop a couple of times and let it settle in.


Then we tacked that big basket of apples. About seven or eight apples peeled and sliced was enough to fill a pie. Slice them thin.


Our apples were sliced about 1/4-inch thick and mixed with only 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of allspice and cloves. Mims told us that she liked the fruit to shine through in the filling, not the sugar.


Tucking the top crust under the bottom crust and crimping the edges were the last step in our process. And don't forget to cut a vent! Any design you want. I went for the traditional, but others were more creative. 


When the pies went into the oven to bake, we got to sit down. She asked if we would like to try some of her pie. Of course! We all chose a different kind—pumpkin, sweet potato, honey chess, coconut cream, and bacon/tomato quiche. It would be hard to choose a favorite.


And before we knew it, the pies were done. What a souvenir to take home to Daddy-O!     I should have alerted him to buy ice cream.


How much fun it was to spend time with daughter Jessica and her friends. Who are now my friends. If you find yourself in Atlanta in the Buckhead area, stop by Pie Shop for a slice or even a whole pie. There is even an option for ordering online. Thank you, Mims, for a real Saturday treat.












Saturday, October 4, 2014

Baked With Love



For several years our church has been involved with a prison ministry. A big part of this ministry is the delivery of homemade cookies to those inmates who participate. It's one way to let them know that people care—care enough to take the time to bake them homemade cookies.

This year our church was to provide 125 dozen cookies. We've done this before. And I've always used the cookie recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag. But this year I did a Google search for Kairos cookies. Kairos is the name of the nation-wide ministry. There are many  recipes and guidelines out there. 
kairos n. [From Greek kairos ‘the suitable or appropriate time for something to occur or for something to be accomplished,’ frequently contrasted with Greek chronos ‘time in general; time as objectively measured using calendars and clocks’] A moment in time or a timeframe in which God makes it possible for something of lasting importance or significance to happen.
I found a recipe from Indiana that used shortening instead of butter. According to their site, cookies made with butter break more easily. I didn't know that. Figured I give them a try. Another plus with this recipe is that there is no waiting for the butter to soften. That always slows me down.

Daddy-O was the taste tester and said they were excellent. I baked 10 dozen. I'll pack 9 dozen for the church program and leave the last dozen—the odd shaped ones—for Daddy-O's weekend treat while I am away. I am happy with this new recipe. They do seem to be sturdy cookies. Another tip from the website said to be sure to cool them COMPLETELY before packing.

I'm thinking these would also be good to send to college students. (At least to take to them or send them back with some. I'm still not sure about shipping. No one wants broken cookies.) Or, pack them to take to a neighbor. Or, keep some in your own freezer for later. 

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES 

1 cup shortening (not butter)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2-1/2 cups chocolate chips

Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix dry ingredients. (I stir with a whisk to blend thoroughly. Can also sift together.) Add to creamed mixture. Beat in vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop onto cookie sheets by spoonfuls. (I used a 1-1/2-inch cookie scoop.) Bake at 350 degrees for 13-14 minutes until medium brown. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for a couple of minutes. Remove to cooking rack or dish towel on counter. Cool completely.

Makes 5 dozen 2-1/2 inch cookies

Best cookie baking tip ever:  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. (You should find it at your grocery store.) You can bake pan after pan of cookies without washing the cookie sheet or replacing the paper between batches. Just that one sheet can be used over and over. When your baking session is done, throw the parchment paper away. Clean pan, ready to put away!




Friday, October 3, 2014

Thankful For Every Sunrise


I was born a morning person. I love getting up early before the whirlwind of the day has started. My kitchen now faces the sunrise. Every day the sun puts on a show just for me.


As a college student, I always got the classes I wanted because there weren't many of us who coveted those 8:00 AM classes. But roommates were not always happy to share their room with an early riser.


When I was a young wife, I never minded the days we forgot to pick up Daddy-O's shirts from the laundry. That meant I got make a quick trip to town just after 7:00 AM to get the shirts in time for him to dress and get to the office. Driving the nearly empty streets was a pleasure.


These days, early mornings are mostly for coffee, reading, maybe a little knitting and sometimes just being. I might even do a bit of housework. I've learned to be really quiet.


Gray days. Glorious skies. Each morning beautiful in it's own way.  


I am always thankful that I have been given another day. One more chance to do something worthwhile. To do something good. To do something kind. One more chance.



"When you arise in the morning, 
think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive
 -- to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."
~ Marcus Aurelius 



"These photos were all taken within the last 10 days."


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Drizzly Day Dinner

Quick Chicken Soup

The temperatures here have been cooler and today it rained. Gray skies and soup seem to go together. Sounded like a supper plan to me.

Our cows in the pasture.

I pulled a quart of chicken stew from the freezer. Our church sells it a few times a year to raise money for missions. I love having it in the freezer, ready to thaw. This was our last quart. It will be a few weeks before they make more. Kind of hated to use that last quart yet.

Then I remembered a chicken soup recipe from years and years ago.  It came from my secretary (Judy, if you are reading this, thank you for the recipe!) and I made it a good many times back then. But like many good recipes, it was set aside as I tried new recipes and then it was almost forgotten. I put the church stew back in the freezer and decided to try this soup recipe again. 


The soup recipe was in "the book." All the recipes in it are good ones. My mother gave me a blank book one year for Christmas. The red plaid cover looked Christmasy, I guess. I started keeping my favorite recipes here, along with notes about where I found the recipe or who gave it to me. I also included menus and listed guests that I had entertained. And thanks to my very first secretary, I dated everything. Soon after I started my first job as a home economist, Vennie told me to always put a date on everything I did. She told me, "It won't seem important now, but later you'll be glad you did." That's been good advice over the years.

My red plaid book is falling apart now. But, oh what memories are in there. For many years I told my daughters that if the house caught on fire, someone needed to grab the red plaid book on the way out. I still think it would be high on my list of things to rescue.


So how did the quick chicken soup compare to the church's chicken stew? It was almost as good. (Okay, Mommy--this is close to the church recipe. Now you can have chicken stew way out where you live! But you'll need to double the recipe for your household.) I'm glad I remembered this recipe. The original has been tweaked a little to suit me now—less salt, less butter.

QUICK CHICKEN SOUP (or STEW, if you wish)

2-1/2 cups Swanson's low-sodium chicken broth
3 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
3 medium onions, peeled & diced
2 (4.5-oz) cans Swanson's chicken, drained 
1 (8-oz) can whole kernel corn  (I used 1/2 or so of cup frozen corn)
2-3 tablespoons butter
milk
salt & pepper to taste

Put broth, potatoes, and onions in a pan and cook 20 minutes, or until vegetables are done. Mash with potato masher. Add chicken, corn and butter and cook uncovered, until thickened. (I cooked it about 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally.) Add salt, pepper and milk until desired consistency is reached. (We like ours thick, like stew.) Heat to boiling and remove from heat immediately.

If you refrigerate and reheat later (like I did last night), be careful not to scorch it as you reheat. Keep a watch on it and stir. 

Recipe Notes:

Yes, it is "quick" compared to starting the soup with raw chicken. It really is quick to put together and then it can pretty much simmer unattended while you do other things in the kitchen. I still wouldn't wander far away.

The original recipe called for 1 can Campbell's condensed chicken broth, plus 1 can of water. It also used 1/2 stick butter. I just couldn't do it.

If the thought of canned chicken bothers you, you could use a cup of cooked, diced chicken. I usually have some in my freezer, so it would still qualify as a quick recipe. But you might be surprised that the canned chicken is good in this recipe. It's awfully easy to take a couple of cans off the shelf and just add it to the soup.

When you add the milk, do it a little at a time. You can't "un-add" the milk. We like ours thick, more like a stew. But add more milk if you want it soup-like.

We like ours with saltine crackers and sweet pickles on the side. 






Monday, September 29, 2014

BBQ Chicken

BBQ Chicken

We were in need of a quick easy supper one night last week. I found a recipe online and all the ingredients were in my pantry. The original recipe was a slow cooker recipe for pulled chicken. I'll try that soon, but I had chicken legs in the refrigerator. We like chicken legs and they are always such a bargain compared to the other packages of chicken.

I have no problem with straight-out-of-the-bottle barbecue sauce. But this bumped it up a notch. It was a nice change from using just plain bottled sauce and almost as easy. And there are days when an oven meal is what I need. You could put potatoes in the oven to bake along side the chicken and your dinner would all be done at once. Why didn't I think of that last week?

BBQ CHICKEN

5 or 6 chicken legs (remember I'm only cooking for the two of us)
1/2 cup bottled barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
2 tablespoons Zesty Italian salad dressing
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with foil for easy clean up. Place chicken legs in pan.
Mix barbecue sauce and remaining ingredients. Spoon over chicken. Bake for 1 hour, or until done.



Looked out the kitchen window last week and saw this bright color. I know they are weeds by some people's definition. But I can hardly call anything this beautiful as "weed." The morning glories have taken over the hydrangea at the moment. That's just fine with me.