Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Too Tired To Cook--But I Did

There are nights when I am too tired to cook and Granddaddy will say, "We'll just go get something." I appreciate the sentiment, but if we don't want pizza or a burger, it's quite a drive to dinner. At this point I usually check the refrigerator and see what I can find that requires little effort. 

Last night was one of those nights. I had pork tenderloin in the refrigerator that needed to be cooked anyway. I have absolutely THE best recipe for pork tenderloin but it requires several hours in a marinade. And it was already 5:30. So I tried something different.

Pork tenderloin cooks quickly. It's always tender. And leftovers are good. Can't beat that combination. Here's what I did...

Pork Tenderloin with Herb Rub

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 - 1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes (or use about a tbsp. of fresh minced if you have some)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 - 1 teaspoon paprika
salt, to taste

1 pork tenderloin, about 1-1/4 lb
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients. Using dry hands, rub herb mix over all sides of tenderloin, pressing gently to make sure the herbs "stick."

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. (If the garlic starts to burn, remove it from pan.) Put tenderloin in the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes until nicely browned on all sides. Use tongs to turn the meat. Move tenderloin to a roasting pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, until internal temp reaches 165-170 degrees. (I really do use a meat thermometer. Started checking after 20 minutes but mine took 30 minutes to reach the temp.)

Remove from oven and put a foil "tent" over the meat and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve.

Feel free to adjust the herbs to suit your taste. Or what's in your pantry. But this is a good starting place.

This took about 15 minutes of prep and then it went into the oven while I sat down and rested. It would have taken longer than that to get to a restaurant. You can fix a quick salad or bake a potato to finish the meal. I lined my roasting pan with foil so the clean up was minimal. And now we have leftovers for tonight! 

The tenderloins I usually buy come with two in a package. This rub really does make enough for only one. Double the amounts if you want to cook them both. I put the other in the freezer. Might try a different rub next time---but this one was good. 

I'll give the marinade recipe later. It is our all time favorite! But it does mean I have to plan ahead. It's nice to have another option.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Baby Sister Says...

That was a nice afternoon nap. I'm all rested now. Guess it's time to start waking up.

 I didn't know Mimi came while I was asleep!

 I'm so glad to see her!

I like it when she's here to get me up. Hope she stays to play.

** All thoughts and words above are purely imagined by Mimi---although I'm pretty sure that's what she was thinking. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Had an email chat this week with a Ravelry friend from upstate New York about the wonderful-ness of screened-in porches. I remember seeing an episode of House Hunters on HGTV once when a lady was looking at houses in South Carolina. She found a house she liked--except that it had a screened porch. She said if she bought that house, the first thing she would do was remove the screen. Hope someone explained to her WHY we screen in our porches. The outdoors belongs to the bugs--and they let us share it with them.

Granddaddy and I spent lots of time this weekend on porches. Last night at the lake. Tonight here at home. Totally different kinds of porches. Totally different kinds of wonderful.

At the lake...

 A place to watch the boats and the fishermen.

 A place to prop your feet up and knit or read a book.

A place to enjoy supper while it rains outside.

At home...

A place to listen to our favorite Saturday night radio show.

A place to enjoy Granddaddy's good grilled supper--which included vegetables 
from our garden.

A place to enjoy watching the rabbit family that lives in our back yard,
to watch the gliders in the evening sky, and a place to watch the hummingbirds.
It's my favorite spot in the house.

I had a 5'x5' excuse of a porch in my first apartment out of college and I thought it was fabulous. I didn't know what was yet to come. One of the perks of getting older turned out to be having better porches.

Random things I know:

Use dry hands and a dry paper towel on a dry ear of corn to easily remove the silk. Then rinse before cooking.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In The Kitchen Tonight

In the summer no one wants to stand over a hot stove. Probably no one wants to do that anyway. So here are a couple of quick and easy recipes. Short ingredient list. Short prep time. One recipe is one we've used for years and we are having for tonight's supper. The other is new to us this year and Big Sister made it by herself for their dinner last night. You have to try it. You can't let a 10-year-old outdo you!

Pork Chops & Brown Rice

1/2 cup regular rice
1 can beef consomme
3 or 4 boneless pork chops
slices of onion and green pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Put rice in a 1-1/2 quart baking dish. Pour most of the consomme over the rice. Brown the pork chops quickly in a hot skillet. Put the chops on the rice, top each with a slice of onion and a couple of pepper strips. Pour the remaining consomme over the chops. Cover and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

The nice thing about this recipe--other than it is delicious--is that it is well suited to smaller families. And it only takes a few minutes to get it ready for the oven. Then you can go do something else for an hour. If you choose to double it, leftovers freeze well. Because the pork chops bake in liquid, they are always tender. We've been making this for years and years.

And now, here is Big Sister's recipe. She has made this three times since Christmas. Hmmm...... Looks like Big Sister's recipe is more complicated than mine.

White Chicken & Broccoli Pizza

1-1/2 cups fresh broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup Alfredo sauce
1 (12-oz.) baked pizza crust, such as Mama Mary's
2 cups shredded Italian-blend cheese
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place  pizza crust on a baking pan. Stir mushrooms, chicken and broccoli into Alfredo sauce. Spread over pizza crust. Sprinkle cheeses over the top. Mix basil, oregano and garlic salt and sprinkle over cheese. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Slice and serve.

If you buy pre-sliced mushrooms, a bag of broccoli florets and use leftover or rotisserie chicken, this a quick fix, too.

Random Things I Know:

Seeds from a bell pepper can be left to dry and then used as potato chips in a doll house. Very tiny potato chips.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Only two squash plants in the garden. Just two plants.

Thankfully just two plants. 

But when you pick twice a day, that's a lot of squash. 

So we've eaten lots of squash in the last few days. Everything starts about the same way. Slice your squash, a zucchini (we planted that also) and an onion. I added some fresh thyme and rosemary because I had that in the garden, too. Then I sprinkled everything with House Seasoning. I sprinkle nearly everything with House Seasoning.

Monday night it was just a simple side dish. Heat a little olive oil in the pan and then add the vegetables and cook on medium high until they begin to brown. The heat needs to be high enough to brown and and low enough for them to cook to tender-crisp before they're too brown. (The browned part is where much of the flavor comes from.) We had this with a burger that Granddaddy grilled while I manned the stove. Supper on the table in 15 minutes!

Saturday night there was no supper plan. But there was squash. I quickly sauteed boneless chicken breasts while the water for the pasta came to a boil. (House Seasoning on the chicken, too.) Then while the penne boiled, I cooked the squash, zucchini and onion same as above. Cut the cooked chicken into bite-size pieces and mix with hot cooked and drained penne, vegetables and a jar of Alfredo sauce. Sprinkle a little minced parsley on top. 

This one dish meal was so good--creamy and delicious--and considering where we live, it was faster than going out for dinner. About 20 minutes from deciding what to cook to sitting down at the table.

Sunday's squash harvest rode all the way to Atlanta. I read on Jessica's blog that she used it to make veggie fried rice on Monday.  (Ha! Another colorful Monday.)

On Monday afternoon I delivered the morning's squash harvest to Mommy so that she could make baby food. Baby Sister loves squash. Wonder if she will love Granddaddy's squash even more? Squash grown with love.

This is only three days worth of squash. There is still some in the refrigerator. And there will be more ready to pick in the morning. More squash....  

Got any squash recipes you'd like to share with me?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Peaceful Easy Feeling

Here is "the dress." Finished on Saturday afternoon for Sunday morning's christening. If there had been more time I would have added hand feather stitching, but maybe it's nicer that I stopped when I did. Sometimes less is more. I was happy that Jessica was home to make photographs.

Today will be a very slow day around here. Or at least a "no stress" day. Last week was a rush to make a gown that Mommy wants to save forever. No pressure there. I had not done this kind of sewing in 20 years. But a couple of phone calls to my friend Doris  and four phone calls to Gail at the Bernina dealer and I was on my way.  


The best help was remembering that many years ago I had purchased Martha Pullen's book on French sewing by machine. The book, untouched for years, was high on a shelf and covered with dust but on the inside was treasure! There were drawings and instructions for everything I needed to know. As I began to work, my hands began to fall into old rhythms, remembering how this was done. I made dresses using these techniques for my own daughters when they were little.

Remember the beautiful old cap in yesterday's post? Last night a cousin read the blog and then emailed me a photo of her mother (my aunt) wearing that same cap. Her mother, born in 1914, was about two years old in the photo. My cousin had never seen the cap (don't think she knew it still existed) but recognized it from the photo. How very special for both of us.
And yesterday, after the beautiful christening, we enjoyed wonderful family time as all the grandparents and aunts went to lunch with Baby Sister and her family to celebrate baby's day and Father's Day. Then afternoon storms blew through bringing much needed rain.

As the rain slowed and the wind died down, Granddaddy called for me to hurry. He wanted me to see the rainbow. Peaceful sky after the storm. Peaceful time after a busy weekend.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Have Called You By Your Name

A christening is always a special service in our church. This morning was even more special to me because it was Baby Sister who was being christened.  Our pastor--the same pastor who married Mommy and Daddy--retires next Sunday so this was his last baptism before his retirement, even more reason to mark this Sunday as special.

This cap belonged to my grandmother -- Baby Sister's great-great grandmother -- and it was one she used for her babies. Would she have ever thought it would be used again in another century?

The sewing project I mentioned? It was the christening gown for Baby Sister. 
I think she and I both relaxed when the serious part was finished.

A dear lady who passed on many years ago used to make a banner for every baby who was christened in our church. She did this until she was well into her 90s. She had no children herself but doing this for every baby made it feel like they were all connected to her in a way. Her banners gave the child's name and then this Bible verse, "I have called you by your name. You are mine. ~Isaiah 43:1."  So, Baby Sister, today you were called by your name.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Remembering To Breathe

My sewing project is nearly done. But I get more nervous about making mistakes as I get closer to the end. Funny thing is that the hard parts are finished. So this morning I walked outside, fed the hummingbirds and stopped to look at the daisies. Deep breaths.....  And I remind myself, it's only fabric.

Also got a break from the project last night when I went to babysit both sisters. Baby Sister absolutely would not acknowledge me for a week or so after I left my 'full time' grandmothering. We saw her several times during those two weeks and she completely ignored me. I really think she was mad at me. But last night, she was happy to see me. She even cried when I walked across the room and out of her line of vision. And promptly stopped when I walked back over to her. I feel better now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sew Slow

This project is coming along slowly. Let's see....five days left. Should be PLENTY of time. (I keep telling myself.) Luckily, sewing is much like riding a bicycle--even though I haven't done this kind of work in years, it's all coming back.

Word of warning if you come to my house any time soon--don't go barefoot. I'm pretty sure there are pins on the floor here and there. I just found one the hard way.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Baby Sister Says...

I don't know what you're planning for the weekend, 
but I'll just be hanging out with the fam, chillin'.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo

It's entirely possible that grandmotherhood leads to mental imbalance. This pile must turn into something quickly. This sounded like a perfectly reasonable idea a few weeks ago.

If only the mice and birds around here could sew. We will see how well I do without singing mice or magic words.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Only Tuesday?

I know we aren't officially doing "Colorful Mondays" anymore, but it was pretty colorful in my kitchen last night. I was making lots and lots of pasta salad for the Salkahatchie volunteers who are based at our church this week. My instructions were "just make the recipe you usually do." Problem was I'd never made pasta salad. So I asked several people how they did it. I googled recipes. And then I made up my own version, using an idea from here and a suggestion from there.

I don't think it matters too much which vegetables you use. I did blanch the broccoli to make it brighter--just a quick dip (30-60 seconds) in boiling water and then a rinse in cold water.

And after a couple of hours in the kitchen, I had enough pasta salad for the multitudes.  I just kept making it over and over. Granddaddy was my taste tester. He said this is a winner. Here's what I did:  (I even made up a name for it.)

Summer Garden Pasta Salad

16-oz. box of rotini pasta, cooked and drained
14-oz. bottle Italian salad dressing (see the photo for the one we like)
3-4 tablespoons McCormick's Salad Supreme seasoning
about 4-5 cups of fresh vegetables, cut up

Stir all ingredients together and chill for at least an hour. Can be made the day before.

I used a mix of broccoli, grape tomatoes halved, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, fresh corn (cooked and cut off the cob), diced onion, celery and carrots.  I would have added chopped fresh parsley if I'd had any.

We got it delivered to church by 8:30 last night--enough pasta to feed lunch today to half the group. I was happy I didn't have breakfast duty. Bless those folks.

This afternoon after my ukulele gig was over (yes, I am a ukulele playing grandmother), I stopped by Baby Sister's house on my way home. Just checking in.

Looks like Mommy has it all under control. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Food, Glorious Food

Food as far as the eye can see.

I've heard Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion talk often about Lutheran church dinners. I grew up in a Baptist church so I know there are some seriously good cooks there. And in my other life as a ukulele player, I've eaten at more covered dish dinners in the last few years than maybe anyone in the upstate. So I consider myself a qualified "covered dish dinner judge." My own Methodist church ranks right up at the top of the list. We were happy yesterday to have 70 people join us for lunch as they start their week of volunteering with Salkahatchie, a home repair project.

Granddaddy was happy to be the baby keeper during much of the morning. One of the sweetest moments was when he was showing off the baby to a friend who has four grandchildren. While they were talking, Baby Sister looked the gentleman over carefully and then reached out with one tiny finger and delicately touched his moustache (which looks much like her grandfather's.) It was like she was thinking, "I know what you are--you're a granddaddy."

Mommy brought this slaw to add to the feast. It's a great recipe for cookouts, picnics, etc. It's very simple to make, easy to double if you need more, and people always ask for the recipe.

Crunchy Coleslaw

1 bag of broccoli slaw mix ( 12-14 oz. maybe?)
1 package Ramen noodles (Oriental flavor)
1 small bag slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar

Combine oil, seasoning packet from noodles, sugar and vinegar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir into slaw mix and almonds. (You can toast almonds in toaster oven at 350 degrees for 3-4 minutes. Watch closely; they burn easily.) Place in refrigerator until cold, or overnight.

Just before serving, break noodles into slaw and stir.

Funny story...with all the food being brought into the very busy kitchen, the little bag of noodles for this recipe got separated from the slaw mixture. Making a good (but wrong) guess, someone stirred the noodles into another dish. Mommy's coleslaw was still good, just not as crunchy.

Tip: If you are carrying this dish to a dinner, tape the bag of noodles to the lid on the dish.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Busy, Busy

I think I'm going back to Baby Sister's house. I just thought I was busy there. 

We have gone non-stop here today. We left early this morning to buy herbs for the garden. If you know me, you'd know I'm pretty much useless when it comes to yard and garden stuff. But it's easy to pretend you're a gardener when you see all the pretty colors in the displays at the store.

Thankfully Granddaddy humors me and lets me think I've helped when he's done nearly all the work. I picked out a few packets of flower seeds to sow behind the herbs and he put them in the ground. He also planted the herbs. I actually did help a little. A very little.

We even fixed a pot to put on Mommy's deck. Hopefully she will have fresh herbs in a few weeks for her cooking. Using fresh herbs makes people think you are a fabulous cook.

Then it was back inside to get busy in the kitchen. Our church is having a covered dish lunch right after the morning worship service for our members and to feed 70 volunteers who will arrive tomorrow for Salkahatchie Summer Service. 70 extra people to feed (many of them teenage boys) means we need extra food.

For things like that, it's best if I stick with the basics. Macaroni and cheese is always a winner at church dinners. And I discovered you can layer the noodles and cheese a day ahead. Tomorrow I will mix the milk and egg part and bake it.

These two dishes are done and ready to finish in the morning. I made a pan of brownies for good measure. I surely hope everyone else is home cooking, too.

Mimiiii.......  Where are you?????

Not back there....

Come bacckkkk.....

(At least I'm pretending she misses me.)