Thursday, August 27, 2015

Persistence Pays Off


Remember my frustration with the knitting project that had taken forever? I was so tired of looking at the pile on yarn in my lap that I wasn't sure I was even going to like it when I got to the end. I just wanted it to be over.

Pattern: Pebble Beach, medium size
Yarn:  Mrs. Crosby Loves To Play, Satchel,  Colorway: Wild Huckleberry
Needles: size 6

But I didn't quit. The shawl is done. Finished. Complete. Finally. And I LOVE it. I absolutely love it.

You are never really sure when you start a new pattern with a new yarn. It is a huge commitment to spent so much time and then hope the outcome is a good one. Sometimes it isn't. Those are the ones when I tell myself "I'm learning from the experience. I'm learning from my mistakes"—but I'm still not happy about all the time I spent on a flop.

No flop here. This one makes me happy! It was worth the wait. Worth the frustration. (The frustration was all mine---the pattern is perfect.) Now I'm wishing for cooler weather so that I can enjoy it. Maybe I'll turn the air conditioning down and wear it inside. (No. I won't. That's wasteful. But it's tempting.) Think Daddy-O might take me to the mountains just so I can wear a shawl? It's a thought...

noun: persistence
  1. firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sunday's Salad

There was a covered dish dinner at church on Sunday. After many years of getting up early on Sunday morning to cook something, I finally got smart and picked a recipe that I could make the day before. The second smart thing I did was to look back* through my recipes here on the blog to find something I knew was good. This salad is always a hit and it's better when made the day before. 

To keep from washing more pots, when the water for the pasta came to a boil, I dunked in the broccoli to blanch it for a minute. (Yep, I held it by the stem and dunked it.) Then I let the corn (on the cob) cook for five minutes and took it out. Then I cooked the pasta in the same water. Less to clean up.

This time I used rotini and my veggies were onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, zucchini, grape tomatoes, broccoli and corn. You can use any combination. If you are going to the store to buy vegetables for this, look for the vegetables that are not prepackaged. It only takes about one each (or less) of the vegetables listed. 


1 (16-oz) box of pasta -- bowtie, penne, or rotini
5 cups of chopped fresh vegetables
fresh parsley, chopped (if you have it)
1 (16-oz) bottle Italian salad dressing

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water. Drain well. Put pasta and vegetables and parsley into a large bowl. Add salad dressing and Salad Supreme Seasoning. Toss gently until mixed well. Cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or until ready to serve.

This recipe filled a 5-quart plastic container.

*There are two ways to look for recipes here. You can use the Recipe Index tab just under the blog header. Or, you can use the search box found in the top left corner. That search box is small but it's there--it has the magnifying glass "search" symbol in the box.

Covered Dish Dinner Success


Monday, August 24, 2015

Cows, Calves, Goats, And Kids (The Human Kind)

Some families are sports families. I know band parents, who spend their weekends working the concession stand to make money to keep the band afloat. There are dance moms and swim team families. There are academic teams and science events for other folks.

But no one works harder than these 4H families. This past weekend, moms and dads hauled kids and cows (and goats and rabbits and dogs) from all over the state to spend hours in a hot barn to show their animals. Judging is based on the condition of the animal and the skill of the handler. It is serious business.

Showing animals involves the entire family. Moms were brushing cows. Dads were grooming goats. Brothers and sisters tagged along to and help out where they could.

In the not-so-serious category, this year, for the first time there, was a category for cow costumes. The children showing these cows also were in costume. This was just plain fun.

Daddy-O worked hard, along with other members of the Cattlemen's Association, to put this show together. The show gets bigger every year. It was nice to see kids doing something that didn't involve a cellphone for a change!

And for those of you worried about Daddy-O going hungry during my don't-want-to-cook-spell...while he was busy with the livestock show, I spent most of Saturday in the kitchen cooking to restock the freezer. A 3-Packet Pot Roast in the slow cooker was divided into three small bags and frozen. (Remember there are only two of us here.) Meatballs in marinara in two small bags. Chicken was cooked and half frozen and the other half made into chicken salad. Pork chops and brown rice was cooked for supper—and half of that was frozen for later, too. And I made a huge bowl of pasta salad that went to church yesterday. And some of that came back home, so we will have that to eat this week. He's not going to starve.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Almost Not Cooking

I told Daddy-O that I have lost all interest in cooking. He instantly fired back, "Well, you'd better get over it. I haven't lost interest in eating." And he is completely right.

I headed to some favorite blogs, ones with recipes I trust and that we usually like. The writer of Southern Plate is a southerner like us, and her recipes are easy and good. Many are ones I grew up with. A cousin called me once to ask if I had the lemon pie recipe that both our mothers made—and neither mother wrote down. I didn't have it, but soon after that conversation, the lemon pie recipe popped up on the Southern Plate blog. I remembered enough about how Mother made it to know that was the one.

So I was happy to find this sandwich recipe on her blog. A sandwich isn't exactly cooking, is it? That meets my needs. But a sandwich can make a good hearty supper, which met Daddy-O's need.

For once, I made a recipe exactly like it was written, except I cut it in half. And I used a little less butter. (Well, I guess I didn't follow it exactly, did I?) I'm only feeding two of us. I even found the Dale's marinade at the store. The verdict? Daddy-O said, "This is good." Took another bite, "This is REALLY good." I thought it was good, too. But for my taste it was a little salty. I used the larger amount in the recipe. So I might back off the marinade a bit another time. But rest assured, there will be another time.


1 lb. deli roast beef, sliced for sandwiches
1 to 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 stick butter (I used less)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons Dale's Sauce (or soy sauce or a little Worcestershire)
soft deli rolls

Cut roast beef into pieces. (I cut the stack of slices into squares.) Melt butter. Add 1-2 tablespoons sauce, according to taste. Add onions and peppers and saute until tender. Add roast beef and additional sauce. Continue cooking until roast beef is heated through. Remove from heat and sprinkle cheese over the top. Let sit until melted. (I put a lid on at this point to help it melt.) Serve on sandwich rolls.

Makes about 5 sandwiches

If you've never heard of Dale's Sauce (I hadn't) the ingredients on listed on the label say it contains mostly soy sauce with some corn syrup and onion, garlic, ginger and paprika, along some other ingredients. So the main flavor is the soy sauce. I don't think you need to worry if you can't find it. Use one of the substitutes listed—soy sauce or Worcestershire. You'll be fine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Must Keep Knitting

I am ready to put this project out of it's misery. It's actually down to the last ten rows—but that's still over 4,000 stitches to go! Ugh. And then there are over 400 stitches to bind off at the end. So. Many. Stitches.

Let me back up a bit. I started this project in early summer as part of a KAL—that's "knit-a-long" for you non-knitters. That's when a group of folks all knit the same pattern during a specified time period.

In this case, it was a group on Ravelry (a social media site for knitters/crocheters) so the knitters were scattered across the globe. It's fun to chat with other knitters who are working on the same shawl. We can help each other solve problems. Cheer each other on. Admire each others finished project. But I didn't finish by the deadline.

Now I knew when I started that I would not finish on time. I had the little ones here during the summer, remember? But I had met the designer at the Georgia knitting retreat in the spring and I really wanted to participate. So I started amid the chaos here, knitting slowly in fits and starts. I thought I wouldn't be too far behind finishing.

I figured when the dust settled I would zip through the rest. Well, that hasn't happened. My upper case KAL (knit along) has become a lower case "kal" that stands for knit alone.

Maybe it was because I was tired, but I've made too many mistakes. Mistakes that needed to be undone. And redone. Then more mistakes. I am near the end now, but I am having to make myself push through to the end. Thank goodness, the end is the easiest part.

I find myself not knitting now because I need to unload the dishwasher or fold laundry or vacuum cobwebs from behind the blinds. Don't the lampshades need dusting? Hmmm, the kitchen trash can needs to be washed.

But I will make myself keep going. I will get to the end to the end. Fingers crossed that after thousands and thousands of stitches that feel like thousands and thousands of hours (it really isn't--most people finished in less than a month) that I will LOVE this shawl. Time will tell.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Okra Overload

The okra just keeps coming. The grass in our yard, the hay in the fields, our shrubbery, our flowers—all burned up. No rain here. But the okra? Daddy-O cuts it nearly every day. He was away yesterday for most of the day working to get the show barn ready for the livestock show that happens this weekend.

I thought it might be a good time to try a recipe that I had tucked away several weeks ago. I had everything here to make it. There are still tomatoes in our garden, too.

Interesting story...our church has a vegetable garden. Yes, our church that sits right on Main Street. Some members tend it and the produce grown goes to the food pantry so that those needing food assistance can have fresh vegetables. A friend told me last week that they were having trouble giving the tomatoes away. The tops had split on many of them and the people didn't want them. I suppose they don't look like the sturdy tomatoes from the grocery store—the ones that have been shipped across the country.

Well, weather does things to tomatoes. Too much water. Not enough water. Excessive heat. And sometimes they will split around the stem. Like the one I used in this recipe. It was a large tomato that had split at the top. I lopped off the top and went right on cooking. We can't fault people who don't know that's all you need to do.  But I'm not sure how we educate them.


3 to 4 cups fresh okra, sliced
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt to taste
few grinds of fresh black pepper

Heat oil in heavy skillet. Add chopped onion and saute until onion is almost translucent and soft. Add garlic and saute a few minutes more.
Add okra and tomato and saute until okra is tender, yet firm, with a little color.
Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over rice, quinoa, or enjoy it all by itself.

I did have this by itself for lunch. If Daddy-O had been here, this would have been a side dish to something. I don't think I could pass this single dish off as "lunch" to him. As I ate it, I kept thinking of all the things I could add. Fresh corn, black beans, maybe a little cheese sprinkled over the top. I would love it over rice.

I'll be honest. I will forever like okra fried best. (Home fried is better than the restaurant kind.) Roasted okra is a close second and much easier to make. But we have so much okra, I'm trying other recipes, too. This is good. I ate over half of it for lunch. I would put this recipe in the the "like it" category instead of "love it."  I have made stewed okra and tomatoes before. This is similar but not as soupy or as spicy. I usually put a bay leaf in my stewed okra.

I'll keep this recipe for another summer when we are in okra overload. But the next batch will be roasted again. Maybe before the harvest ends, I'll even fry one more pan full. Daddy-O can only hope.

UPDATE: We had rain last night. Over an inch! Still need much more, but we are thankful for this amount.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Looking Back At The Weekend


We only spent twenty-four hours at the lake.

It was enough time to rest, to recharge our batteries.

This was the only "work" that took place.

But the fish were all smarter than the cooters.