Thursday, September 29, 2011

Squealin' With Delight

Thought you might like to have one of the recipes I made yesterday. I'm baking things for our church's booth at Squealin' On The Square. That's a huge BBQ festival here that attracts about 30,000 people each year.

I got this recipe years and years ago from a 4H leader when I worked with that program in Pickens County. I had not made it in a long time but saw the recipe when I was looking this week through my recipe collection. I like it because it makes a lot of cookies. Just the ticket when you need a big batch. Coconut makes these bar cookies "chewy" but you really don't taste it. It's mostly a peanut butter/brown sugar flavor. So glad I resurrected this recipe. I had forgotten how very good they are. It won't go back to the bottom of the pile for a long time!

Chewy Peanut Squares

2 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-2/3 cups flaked coconut (a 7-oz. can if you find a can--I only found a bag of coconut)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine shortening, peanut butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend thoroughly at low speed. Add flour and coconut. Mix only until blended.

Spread in a greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until done. Cool completely. (Cut into 1-1/2 inch squares to yield 5 dozen.)

I did bake other cookies but not as many as I had hoped to, so I packaged up this snack mix instead. If you like a PayDay candy bar, this is for you. Just mix dry roasted salted peanuts and candy corn, about half and half. That's it. I labeled it "Payday Mix."

If you aren't doing this for a sale, it looks cute in a pumpkin-shaped glass candy dish--for about a day and a half. That's as long as it lasted at my house last year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Deja Vu All Over Again

Look closely. This is not Baby Sister. This is her mommy. If you have been around me during the past year, you've heard me say over and over, "She looks exactly like her mother." I'm standing by my statement. Every time I look at the grandbaby, I see my own little daughter. It's "deja vu all over again" as the famous Yogi Berra once said. Yep, all over again.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend's End

Potluck dinners are called "covered dish" dinners where we live. They are always good. Both the food and the fellowship.

This covered dish dinner was not Baby Sister's first, but it WAS the first time she actually got to eat some of the regular food. She thought the butter peas were the best thing ever. Could be that these were the first ones she tasted that had been cooked with some seasoning!

I needed something easy to fix for my contribution to the dinner. We didn't get home from our anniversary trip until late yesterday so it had to be simple. This roast is about as easy as it comes. The recipe certainly isn't original. If you Google it, you'll find many, many variations. All with only slight differences. I used an eye of round roast for this because it makes nice slices. The last time I made this I used a sirloin tip roast, I think, and it was more tender. But both were good. Depends on whether you want slices or falling-apart tender.

3-Packet Pot Roast
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 packet dry Italian dressing mix
1 packet dry brown gravy mix
1 cup water
1 beef roast (any cut, about 3 pounds)

Place roast in Crockpot. Mix the three packets of dry mixes with 1 cup water and pour over roast. Cover and cook on LOW for about 7-9 hours.

Then after church and the dinner, we drove halfway to Atlanta to meet Jessica at Starbucks. I had a few things I needed to give her. One thing in the bag was the pair of socks I knitted for her. After a Frappaccino and a short chat, we drove right back home. Glad she posted this photo tonight. I think she likes the socks.

Tomorrow I think the car will stay parked in the garage.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happily Ever After

There was bird seed scattered all over the floors of the hotel. In the lobby. In the hallways. And cages were everywhere. Cages with exotic birds. Colorful birds. Loud birds. We were only staying one night after the wedding at a nearby hotel before we flew out the next morning for a tropical honeymoon. Little did we know that we would be staying with the SC Caged Bird Association. Chirping and squawking was all we heard. 

That was just the first of many surprises that we have encountered in the past 32 years. We have weathered them all--the good ones and the not-so-good ones. Wonder what's coming next? Whatever it is, we can handle it. Together.

Happy 32nd anniversary! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cool Weather Morning

Okay, northern friends--don't laugh at me. But it's 66 degrees at noon today. That's enough for me to pretend it's cold. I put on jeans, a turtle neck and my new red socks. (I probably would also be comfortable in shorts and flip flops. It's at that right-in-between temperature.) I made a stew this morning and I'm finishing a pair of thick(er) socks. Fall is almost here. I am so ready. Now if we can just get some rain.

Ground Beef Vegetable Stew

1 medium onion, diced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 (15-oz) can green beans, drained
1 (8-oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
2 (6-oz) cans Spicy Hot V-8 juice
2 cups water
4 beef bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lb. extra-lean ground beef, browned and drained

Mix everything but ground beef in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 30-45 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add ground beef and let simmer an additional 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

This is the kind of recipe that you can make to suit what you have on hand and what your family likes. More or less of anything would be okay. The above recipe is how I did it this morning. Might be a little different next time. (I just looked at my empty cans and realized the ounces keep changing--but what I've listed will give you the basic idea.)

Ankle Socks (inspired by threepumpkinslittle)
Indulgence DK yarn
Size 3 needles
Cast on 48 stitches   Cuff--4 rows of K2P2 ribbing

And never fear, we did find time to be the baby sitters this weekend. While Mommy and Big Sister went to a play, Granddaddy and I spent some quality time with Baby Sister. Think she really liked her view from way up here on Granddaddy's shoulder. I can imagine things look very different than her usual view from the floor. Wouldn't you love to know what's going on in their little heads?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sock It To Me

It's a bucket list kind of thing, I guess. I just wanted to learn how to knit a pair of socks to say I could do it. There's something very elemental about the process. It's not the easiest thing I've done. But, at the same time, not as hard as I thought it would be. If I make about three more pairs, I might get it all right.

Working with the four skinny wooden needles reminded me of playing pick up sticks when I was growing up. Wonder if any children still play that game? Or, is there a video version of the game now? Ha! There is!!! That's in the same category as the Mr. Potato Head video game. When I was little, we played that game with a real potato. I am officially old.

Basic Sock Pattern (cast on 56 st)
Cascade Yarns Heritage
Size 2 needles

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grandmother Duty

Just love days like this... 

Call me again. I'll be happy to baby sit any time.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Spur-Of-The-Minute Meal

Plans change. We had talked about going out for dinner tonight, but by 6:15 PM I realized that I needed to cook. Thankfully there was a flank steak in the refrigerator. And using the power of the internet, I quickly found an easy marinade recipe. Easy enough that by 7:30 PM we were sitting down to eat. And the weather just right for dining on the porch. It's been quite some time since we've been able to do that. (My husband might say that it's been quite some time since I've cooked supper.)

The marinade only takes a few minutes to prepare. I still had time to sit down and read my email and check out a couple of knitting patterns while the steak was in the refrigerator for a half hour. Then as the meat was grilling I steamed the vegetables. This is truly an easy dinner.

Grilled Flank Steak with Onions

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1-1/2 lb flank steak

1 large red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 teaspoon olive oil

In a shallow glass dish (or ziploc bag), mix vinegar, oil, oregano, garlic and pepper. Add steak and turn to coat. Make sure that steak is well coated with vinegar mixture. Cover dish (or seal bag) and marinate in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Heat grill. Remove steak from marinade and discard the marinade. Rub onion slices with 1 tsp. of olive oil. Grill steak, turning once, until medium rare, about 15 minutes, (or longer for desired degree of doneness.) Let steak rest for 10 minutes. 

While steak is resting, grill onions, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and tender, about 7 to 9 minutes.

Thinly slice steak across the grain. Top with grilled onions to serve.

Serves 6

It's nice to have a few quick recipes on hand for this nights like this. When it was all done and we were sitting in the cool of the evening with the candle lit, the radio turned low, enjoying our dinner, we both commented that we would not have had a better meal or a more pleasant evening anywhere.

And now we have leftovers for tomorrow night. Think it will be turned into another easy meal we've made before--Chopped Steak Salad. I KNOW we will be eating at home tomorrow night. The Gamecocks will be playing Georgia on television and dear husband will have a front row seat--right in our den.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Good Yarn

I like to knit. That means I also like to shop for yarn. So while I've been traveling, I found a couple of fun local yarn shops. A great find on Prince Edward Island was Northern Watters Knitwear. There was only a small selection of yarn and but all of it was made in Canada, perfect for a souvenir purchase. (Yep, there was one shop we visited in Mahone Bay that sold exactly the same yarns I can buy here at home. No fun there even though it was a nice shop.) So I brought a couple of skeins of sock yarn home.

But Jessica may have purchased the better souvenir---one that doesn't require her making it. She bought a sweater that was knit there at the store while we were on the island. We stopped in one day to check on the progress and got to see the finished pieces. The sweater was assembled and ready before we left for home. Now Jessica just has to wait for cold weather so that she can wear it.  She will be enjoying this sweater for a long time while I am trying to decide what to knit and then it will likely take me forever to finish something.

But I did do some "travel knitting" while we were gone. One scarf on the flight up and then another scarf on the trip home. And both are done!

 Lacy Baktus
The Fibre Company Canopy Fingering, 2 skeins
Size 5 needles

I'd seen many photos of this Baktus and thought it looked easy enough to try on the plane. Turned out to be a great choice.  I might even get to wear this as a light wrap on a cool evening and not have to wait for winter.

I was almost done with the Lacy Baktus by the time I was packing for the flight home, so I cast on another scarf to keep me busy on the return trip. The January Scarf was a fun pattern and easy enough that I had finished half of it by the time I got home. Hope I don't have to wait until January to wear it.

January Scarf
Arucania Ranco Solid, 1 skein
Size 5 needles

I would be knitting this morning but I left my knitting bag at Baby Sister's house yesterday when I went to stay with her so that Mommy could take a nap. Seems that Baby Sister's souvenir from the beach was a cold that kept her up for a couple of nights. She's better now, thankfully.

Oh...there is a great yarn shop at the beach, too. But that story will have to wait.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Beach Blanket Baby

Saying the words "family vacation" could bring to mind something similar to a Chevy Chase movie but this trip could not have been better. The weather was perfect--which was a miracle given our extreme heat this summer. Everyone stayed in good humor for the whole time. Another miracle when that includes a baby and a big sister. I was happy to spent some extra time with the girls in the evenings while Mommy and Daddy had some time to themselves. Both girls were so tired that putting everyone to bed was unbelievably easy. They were ready to go to sleep. It should be so easy at home!

After eating delicious northern Atlantic seafood a couple of weeks ago in Canada, this weekend it was time to indulge in our southern seafood--crab cakes, fried shrimp, shrimp gumbo, and flounder. And don't forget the hush puppies! Our favorite restaurants did not disappoint. Every bite was delicious. 

This was Baby Sister's first trip to the ocean. She loved it. She loved the water. She loved the sand (except for the handful she ate.) She loved the breeze in her curly hair. And we all loved watching her. In fact everyone around us was quite entertained. She is a real people person already.

Big Sister was more adventurous with her boogie board. 

Digging in the sand was fun, but if you look at the pink knees, you can see Baby Sister liked crawling in the sand just as much. She took off lickety-split toward the ocean. We wondered how far she would go, but after she had gone a good distance she looked back to see where we were. She went another couple of feet, then stopped and thought about it. And crawled right back up the beach to us.

I did manage to sneak out by myself just after the sun came up one morning to enjoy watching the waves break and to listen to the ocean's roar. Glad I am an early riser by nature because I love it when the beach is nearly empty. I will never get tired of this.

Thank you Mommy and Daddy for inviting me to share a few days with all of you.

What a wonderful way to end the summer.