Monday, December 10, 2018

And It's Not Officially Winter Yet


Now, you dear readers who live in places like Minnesota or New York or Alaska, let me explain about Southerns and snow. Or, sleet. We have a reputation of going a little crazy when winter weather descends upon use, doing things like buying all the bread and milk off store shelves in a couple of hours. As soon as the televison meteorologist says the "S" word.

The highway department does the best they can to clear major highways. But those of us on secondary roads or on country roads, just have to wait for things to melt. That's why everything closes with just an inch or two of snow on the ground. Folks who have moved down south laugh at us. "What on earth? We don't stop when it snows!" But these weather events happen so seldom that it isn't economically practical to have enough road equipment to clear all the roads. Especially when it will all be gone in a day or two.

Yesterday was one of "those days." We didn't get snow at the farm. It was pure sleet here. (Thirty minutes up the road got 6-8 inches of snow.)  So churches were closed. Restaurants were closed. Stores were closed. A baby shower was cancelled. Roads were all white. All frozen over. It was a stay-at-home kind of day.

Here's what we do on a day like that...


We look out the windows. A lot. 
Is it going to be a dusting? Will there be enough to measure with a ruler?
It sleeted all morning. About an inch.


I stay in flannel pajamas and drink lots of hot coffee
and make a big pot of vegetable soup.


Daddy-O, on the other hand, bundles up and heads out to feed the cows.
Farm chores happen every day, regardless of the weather.


I wrap presents. 
Nearly done!


Daddy-O finishes his outside chores 
and is happy to get back inside where it's warm.


And he makes fancy hot chocolate.
This cup is for me to enjoy while I watch Christmas movies.


Thankfully, we didn't lose power yesterday like thousands of people in neighboring counties did. Many are still in the dark and in the cold, waiting for the power crews to put everything back together.

And today here at the farm? All the white has melted. Except for a few spots around the shrubbery. It looks like most December days. In just over 24 hours, our wonderland has come and gone. That's how we do winter weather. (And it's not even "winter" yet!)






Monday, December 3, 2018

In One Weekend

Apple Cake

Before I left at the end of last week, I baked a quick-to-make cake for Daddy-O so he would not feel neglected or forgotten. So quick to stir together that I mixed it while still in my pajamas. Popped it in the oven to bake while I took a shower. With nearly an hour baking time, I had plenty to time to get ready before it was done.


The apple cake was ready for Daddy-O to sample before I left. He came in from feeding cows and was happy to find a treat waiting. A warm cake, fresh out of the oven.


My weekend trip to see the grandchildren had a two-fold mission. One...make sure that Baby Girl had an angel costume for her preschool Christmas program. And two...to attend Little Sister's piano recital. Soon after I arrived at their house, I pulled out the little sewing machine I bought the last time I was there and set it up on their dining room table and set to work.

Baby Girl discovered she did not like trying on garments in progress. She didn't like getting stuck by the pins in the first try-on. Who would? But her mommy told her that a few sticks are part of having a mommy or grandmother that sews for you. Thankfully, when it was done, she climbed up on the sofa to see herself in the mirror and all was good.


Little Sister had her Christmas piano recital the next day and played like a seasoned professional. Having an audience didn't seem to bother her in the least. I was so happy that they live close enough now that I could go watch her play.


And the *next* day, I loaded up and pulled out of their driveway an hour before the sun came up and drove straight to church in time to ring handbells at our morning worship service. It's a three hour drive. This time a third of it was in the dark, in the rain, in the fog.


And when my very tired self finally got back to my own house, I found the best surprise waiting for me. A dear friend had created a yarn advent calendar for me! A yarn a day from now until Christmas. For the first time in forever, we do not have a paper advent calendar in our house. I made sure the children (grown and little ones) all got home. But somehow I skipped us. Thanks to this friend, we will count down the days until Christmas with yarn. (There was also the perfect knitter Christmas mug tucked in that stuffed-full-box.)


And in a blink, the whirlwind weekend was over.This morning I'm in recovery mode. Sometimes if Daddy-O wakes up before me, he brings me coffee in bed. I asked last night that if that happened today, please bring it in a Christmas mug. And that's what happened. He is THE best.


Here is the recipe for the "one bowl apple cake" that took two bowls. One bowl for the wet ingredients and the apples and one bowl to mix the flour and baking powder together. The cake begs to be served with a cup of coffee or tea. Or, maybe a glass of milk. Daddy-O did tell me that after a few days (I left him with a whole cake to eat by himself) it got "wet and sticky". So maybe this is best eaten in the first day or two.


ONE BOWL APPLE CAKE (that really takes two bowls)

2 eggs
1-3/4 cups sugar
2 leaping teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup oil
6 medium apples
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, cinnamon and oil. Peel and slice the apples directly into the bowl, stirring them in as you go to keep them from turning brown. (I sliced them thin.)

Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well until all of the flour is absorbed by the wet ingredients. Pour mixture into a greased 9x13-inch baking pan, or two 9-inch round pans. Bake for 50-55 minutes for 9x13 pan. Might be less if you use the round pans.


I will admit that I had my doubts about this recipe when it was mixed up. It looked like apple slices barely coated with batter. But it baked into a lovely cake, crusty on top and dense with apples. 

As I was trying to salvage some files from an old computer, I found this recipe that I had saved years ago. Glad I stumbled across it and was able to print it out. That old computer is on it's very last legs.






Friday, November 30, 2018

Holiday Sangria


A house full of family for Thanksgiving week meant afternoon puzzles and evening card games. And maybe a little sangria. Maybe enough sangria to enjoy for a second night. The recipe said to make it and put in the refrigerator overnight. Jessica mixed it in the morning and we sampled it late that afternoon. It wasn't bad, but it was a little unimpressive. It really did need the be mixed the night before.

It was a night after Thanksgiving that we had a nice cheese platter and this sangria. Made our supper of leftovers feel more like a party. The next night we poured up what was left. And that sangria had pizazz. The cinnamon and fruit flavors were bright and full. It really did need more time in the refrigerator. This was the easiest recipe to put together. Instead of adding sugar, the gentle sweetness came from adding apple cider to the wine. 

The end of last year's Christmas napkins.

This drink looks like a party. It tastes like a party. I'm saving the recipe for Christmas because I'm sure we will make it again. If you're having a very small party. Make a single bottle batch for a very small party. Just allow enough time to let the flavors develop.

HOLIDAY SANGRIA

2 bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon
2 cups apple cider
4 cinnamon sticks.
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 red apple, sliced (don't peel it)
1 orange, sliced & seeded (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve in a wine glass, being sure to add some fruit to each glass.


Some apple ciders are bolder than others, I like the stronger kind for this mix. But use the one that suits your tastes. Or, the one that you can find in your store.






Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Thankful For Memories


I wish I had kept notes last week. We had the entire family here for Thanksgiving week. We had no heat for the first few days. We had lots of cooking and cleaning up in the kitchen. We had wild games of UNO. We had crazy post-Thanksgiving workouts. (Well, they did.) We had that precious kind of family time that is the stuff memories are made of.

But most of that is only a memory now. One thing I can share from last week (thanks to Mommy for making pictures) is a kid-friendly recipe that Mommy found. One rainy afternoon after Thanksgiving she let her little ones bake a treat for the rest of us.


Little Sister told us that the recipe said to spread "one-slash-two" of pumpkin. That's a 1/2 cup for those of you who are not fluent in kid speak. (The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of pumpkin.)


And the twists are sprinkled with "cimmanon"—but not sugar. (It actually was pumpkin pie spice.) It was kind of nice to have a non-sweet treat after our holiday indulgences.


Baby Girl had her turn sprinkling pumpkin pie spice over a pan of pumpkin twists.


She performed that task like she does everything—at full speed. No timid approach to anything she does.


PUMPKIN PIE TWISTS

1 (8-oz) can refrigerated crescent rolls (that makes 8 rolls)
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 375º.  Press triangles together to make 4 rectangles. Use a spatula to spread pumpkin over 2 of the rectangles. Top each pumpkin covered rectangle with another rectangle of dough. Cut the rectangles lengthwise into skinny strips. Twist up each long strip. Put parchment paper (or silicon baking mat) on baking pan. Put twists on pan. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice. Bake for 12 minutes, or until twists are brown. Serve warm.


After they made these, almost by themselves, they served the warm twists to all of us as we watched football on TV. I liked sitting down and being served!

Now, being a Southern grandmother—and Southerners love their sweets—I probably would drizzle a little glaze over the tops of these. But goodness knows we didn't need more sweets after chocolate pound cake, pumpkin pie and prune cake. And keeping the recipe simple was just right for little hands to be the bakers. Hang on to this idea for a good grandchildren activity.





Wednesday, November 21, 2018

There Is Still Time To Bake

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

I'm baking this morning. A pumpkin pie for tomorrow. And I nearly panicked when the recipe was not here on the blog. And it wasn't in the family cookbook that we use all the time. That book is so well loved that everyone's copy is falling apart. Then I remembered the original place I kept my favorite recipes. It was a blank book with a red plaid cover. My mother gave me the book for Christmas a zillion years ago with no particular purpose in mind.


And back in 1979, it became my recipe book. Yes, I dated the recipes as I added them and made notes about where I served a recipe, and if it was part of a meal, I even listed the guests in attendance. I do similar things here on the blog now. But nothing will take the place of this tattered little red book. It's nearly a history of my life—the early edition.

Anyway, to keep things where I search for them now, I'm adding my pumpkin pie recipe to the blog. This pie is very close to the classic one on the pumpkin can label. But I adjusted the spices years ago and added a little flour to give the filling more body.

Oven ready.

If you have the ingredients on hand, you've got time to do this pie for Thanksgiving. It's super easy. Just stir it all together. I used a refrigerated pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate.

THANKSGIVING PUMPKIN PIE

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 15-oz can of pumpkin (NOT the pie filling kind)
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
12-oz can evaporated milk
9-inch deep dish pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix filling ingredients in order listed. Pour into pie shell. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.


I find it helpful to measure out the spices before I start the rest of the mixing. And I stir together the spices with the sugar and flour before adding to the pumpkin/egg mixture. (That was a good job for my helper #1.) Seems to me that everything is easier to blend that way.

My helpers

Good luck with your Thanksgiving cooking if you are doing it this year. If something doesn't work out right (and I've already had that happen) just move on the the next thing. Either no one will remember, or it will be the story that everyone loves to tell from year to year. It works out either way.


UPDATE:  Mercy, I'm trying to do too much. This pie recipe was posted here last year. But without photos. Surely next year I can find it on one of these two blog posts!





Monday, November 19, 2018

There's Always Knitting


Pattern:  Sock Recipe: A Good, Plain Sock by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn:  Lollipop Yarn Quientessential, color way Christmas Carol
Needles:  size 1.5

Just popping in for a quick hello while our Thanksgiving visitors are still asleep this morning. This week will be more about family and food than knitting. But there is always knitting happening along the way, I cast on a pair of Christmas socks this weekend. Socks are a small project that can be tucked in a purse or bag and worked on in bits and pieces as life swirls around you. 

I call this a "side project." I'm using a perfectly plain pattern. The yarn does the design work. For most of the sock, I'm just going round and round and round. No counting, no thinking.


Pattern: Piper's Journey, by Paula Emmons-Fuessle
Yarn: Quince Chickadee, color way Barolo
Needles: sizes 6

I finished this small shawl last week. It's a lovely project designed in two parts. The body of the shawl is all garter stitch so it is great for "public knitting." That means you can knit and talk at the same time. The border is knitted after the body is finished and the pattern for that isn't difficult, but you do have to keep track of where you are. So I knitted that part when I had fewer distractions.


Pattern: Maine Morning Mitts, by Clara Parks
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Worsted, color way Grey Mix
Needles: size 7

These fly off the needles. Larger yarn. Bigger needles. I can make one fingerless mitt in an afternoon. So a two day project. And who doesn't need a pair of mitts? Whip out a pair for someone on your gift list. There's time. It's a free pattern.

Now. Back to my previously scheduled cooking. If I don't see you again this week, Happy Thanksgiving!







Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cold Rain. Warm Food.


The weather is just strange this year. We had the "endless summer" and then someone flipped the switch to "cold rain." Inches and inches of rain. And the cold...while we are still waiting on a new furnace.


Our dinner-with-TV group didn't let that stop anything. We just took appropriate measures—rain jackets, careful driving—and we all arrived safely. With food. It was my turn to bring the main dish. And this kind of night called for something that warmed us up. Chili and cornbread sounded good to me. So I made a double batch of turkey pumpkin chili. Turkey? Pumpkin? These friends were all curious when I told them what I was bringing. 

I promise no one would know it has pumpkin in it unless you tell them. It's a rich, thick chili with a mild flavor. It is the easiest chili I've made. The hands-on part is only browning the meat and chopping the onion. The rest is just stirred together. And then it cooks in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. That's it. 

It's the recipe that Mommy discovered years ago and it has become her standard Halloween night supper. I made it at her house a couple of weeks ago when my visit there included Halloween festivities. I've made it several times myself but as it often happens, I had forgotten about this recipe. It was last posted here in 2011. I'm happy it's moved back up in the recipe rotation.


I made one recipe in the crockpot and looked at it and decided that maybe that wasn't enough. So later in the day I went back to the store. Bought more turkey, beans and pumpkin and made a second batch on the stovetop. Then stirred them together. The part that didn't fit in the pot went into the freezer for later.

TURKEY, WHITE BEAN, PUMPKIN CHILI

2 lb. ground turkey 
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (I use the jar kind)
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder (more or less, to taste)
1 teaspoon oregano
2 bay leaves
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin puree (not the pie filling kind)
2 (15-oz) can great northern beans, rinsed & drained
1 (4-1/2 oz) can chopped green chiles
2 cups chicken broth (sometimes I add a little more)

Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, minced cilantro, etc.

Heat large skillet over high heat. Add turkey and cook, breaking it apart, until done, about 5 minutes. Add to Crockpot. Add oil to skillet, then onions and garlic. Saute about 3-4 minutes. Add cumin and saute another minute. Add to Crockpot.

Add beans, pumpkin puree, green chiles, chili powder, oregano, salt and bay leaves. Stir to mix. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

If you want to skip the Crockpot, make it in a large pot on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for about an hour or so, stirring occasionally.


And a bowl of chili needs warm cornbread to go with it. I like all cornbread and corn muffins. But this has to be my favorite recipe. 

CORNY CORNBREAD

1/2 cup vegetable oil (plus extra for greasing the pan)
1-3/4 cups self-rising cornmeal mix
1 cup cream-style corn 
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream (the light kind works just as well)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a 7x11-inch baking pan or a 10-inch cast iron skillet with cooking oil. Preheat the pan in the oven. 

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring with a spoon until combined. Pour batter into the preheated pan. Place pan in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

You can also bake this in a muffin pan. I don't preheat the muffin pan. Makes 12 muffins. Bake for about 25 minute, or until golden brown.

If you have leftover cornbread, wrap it well and pop it in the freezer for a busy day later. 


This weekly TV watching wasn't intended to be a forever thing. But when we reached the end of A Place To Call Home, everyone wants to find a new show and keep the fun going. It's been so nice to spend a comfortable evening with good friends nearly once a week. 




As we count our blessings while we prepare for Thanksgiving, let us say a prayer for the victims of the horrific fires in California, the people who are fighting those fires and those who are caring for the thousands of newly homeless people.