Monday, October 31, 2011

Where The Grandmothers Are

In the middle of last week, I got a strange message on my computer that I didn't understand. So before I clicked on the button to "see what happens," I thought I might better get help. Or, maybe lose all my photos. I made an appointment at the Apple Store for a help session. When I got there just before 9:00 on Friday morning, a small crowd--all carrying electronic gear--had gathered near the store entrance. 

A few minutes after 9:00, I found myself seated at a table with three other grandmothers, who all had computer questions. There was another table with a different set of grandparent-aged folks attending a digital movie workshop. Bless the girl with the red and green spikey hair who got me all straightened out. We're trying, kids...trying as hard as we can not to get left behind in the technological dust! 

So I'm back now, questions answered, photos saved, and all my data backed up. Hope to share at least one good cold weather recipe this week. If you are a soup lover, come back later in the week to get one of our favorite (and easy) soup recipes.

 Happy Halloween from Baby Sister!

...our favorite little pumpkin.

"Enough already! Get me out of this suit!!!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kid Approved

I thought about sharing this recipe and almost didn't. I was a little embarrassed to admit I made a recipe that has a can of pork & beans in it. But I've been in a retro mood lately and have been browsing through old recipes. And this recipe is so old that it calls for a 16-oz. can of beans. It's now a 15-oz. can. 

Last night Mommy dropped the girls off here at the farm to stay with Granddaddy while we had a meeting at church. And I left this casserole for their supper. He said Big Sister inhaled it and Baby Sister wanted more. That's what I remember happening when I made it for our little girls many years ago.

It's kid food! My definition of the perfect "kid food" recipe is one that the kids like, one that the grown-ups find tasty and one that the mom or dad can make quickly. This recipe fits the bill. 

You won't see anything like this on Food Network or in any magazine any more. It wouldn't measure up to "Martha's" standards. We're all more sophisticated now, serving things like couscous and muffulettas (that's in the new Southern Living.)  But for the moms who need dinner on the table fast, this is a worth a try. It's not fast food or a packaged "helper" dinner. Just put some fresh fruit and/or a salad on the side. And then sit down and enjoy a meal at the table with your family.

This recipe is so old that it lives in my old recipe box. I worry a bit about keeping all of my recipes on the computer now--that if it dies, all of my recipes go with it. But the ones that live in the old recipe box are always ready and waiting for me.

Both of these recipes were from a magazine ad for several grocery store brands. The recipe in clipped ad here has been a regular on our table since we first used it (I'll share it later) but today's recipe hasn't been thought about in ages, although we used make it often.

It was as tasty as I remembered. I tweaked the original just a little to update it. Looking through old recipes is like an archeological dig, telling tales of another time. Feel free to rename the recipe if the word "casserole" brings back not-so-fond memories for some of you. 

Here is yesterday's kid-approved recipe...

Hungry Jack Beef Casserole

1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
15-oz. can pork & beans
3/4 cup Kraft BBQ sauce
1 can (10-count) flaky biscuits (I couldn't find the Hungry Jack brand the recipe is named for)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Brown ground beef and onion in a skillet. Stir in pork & beans and BBQ sauce and heat until bubbly. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Cut biscuits in half to form 20 half circles. Place cut-side down around edge of dish. Sprinkle biscuits with cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown.

This pumpkin hat #2 is going in today's mail so that Baby Cousin gets it in time for the a little Halloween wear. Pumpkins can be for Thanksgiving, too, can't they? Hope both babies (sister and cousin) can wear their hats for a few weeks.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall Fun

It finally feels like fall! We enjoyed the cooler weather as we crammed several things into one day. Fall fun all day long. While Granddaddy and I were at my aunt's very special birthday celebration....

...Baby Sister took her family to the pumpkin patch to find a pumpkin to carve and to find their way through the corn maze.

Then Mommy, Daddy and Big Sister went to see The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow at the SC Children's Theater. That meant that Granddaddy and I got to baby sit. Baby Sister has turned into a granddaddy's girl. Completely. 100%.

 She swatted me away several times, choosing his lap and his shoulder over mine.
Don't you know he loved that?

Imagine her doing that after I made this fun pumpkin hat just for her!!!!

Pattern: Punkin Head
Needles: Size 3
Yarn: Reynolds Wash Day Wool

Because I used sock yarn, I cast on 126 stitches and then pretty much followed the pattern from there. Just did a k12p2 for the body of the hat and then added a few more decrease rows. Have just finished a second one for Baby Cousin. (Hope they don't mind their baby having a "punkin head," too!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Grandmothers' Day Out

Sometimes the grandmother gig involves spending time with other grandmothers. Friends who remember things like typewriters, dial telephones and who listened to music on record players.

Today was one of those days-- a day spent with a fellow knitter, who happens to be a new grandmother. We spent an entire day at SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair) looking at yarn and all the things that go with the hobby. And it was just as much fun to see the beautiful handmade scarves and shawls that all the shoppers wore. Wearing a knitted item here was the equivalent of the secret handshake--it meant you belonged. There were no strangers. Everyone was a friend.

So for hours we looked and touched and ooohed and ahhhed. We planned and we wished and we bought. And we used a surprising amount of self control. (Which only means I have already decided what I want to buy next time.)  This was my first visit to SAFF near Asheville, NCBut I'm certain it won't be my last.

This sign was the first thing we saw as we turned into the parking lot.
Turns out there was also an antique tractor show
happening at the WNC Agricultural Center, too.
Evidently at a different gate.

Yarn vendors from across the country were set up around the arena.
We were there very early, before it got crowded. 

When you see so many beautiful colors it gets hard to decide 
which one(s) should go home with you.

There were rabbits and alpacas to see, if you were interested in
starting your knitting project from scratch.
But this was the only one I saw wearing a coat.

And I guess some people just couldn't wait to get home to knit some more.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Last Of The Summer (Tomatoes)

We have enjoyed watching Last Of The Summer Wine on PBS for years. No wine here, but these are definitely the "last of the summer tomatoes." Someone forgot to tell our garden that summer was officially over a few weeks ago. We are still picking vegetables. The vines are still loaded with green tomatoes. Maybe I should give fried green tomatoes a try. I'll eat them at a restaurant but I've never made them at home. I'll think about it.

Even though last week was crazy, I did cook supper most nights but fell back on the old standby recipes. So last night I was ready to try something new. I had a package of chicken in the refrigerator and discovered I had bought boneless/skinless thighs instead of the usual breasts. I emailed Jessica for a recipe suggestion, thinking she had done something special with thighs before.

And she sent me this recipe. It calls for drumsticks but she had made it with the boneless thighs. Couldn't be easier. And couldn't be better. This will be a regular from now on. Here is my version of that recipe. Had to buy the preserves available in our small town. (Do people here not eat apricots?) Since my substitution worked well, you have my permission to adjust the recipe, also. The sauce was just delicious over rice.

Hot & Sweet Chicken

1 cup pineapple preserves
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic (I used the jar kind)
2 teaspoons Tabasco
1 package boneless/skinless chicken thighs (6 thighs)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine preserves, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic and Tabasco. Cook and stir over medium-low heat until preserves are melted.

Arrange thighs in a 9x13-inch pan. (I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.) Pour sauce over the chicken, turning to coat. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until done, spooning sauce over chicken while baking. If you use bone-in chicken pieces, the cooking time will be longer. Adjust as necessary.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just One Word

Basic Socks
Cast on: 56 stitches, Leg: K2P2 ribbing
Yarn: Regia (Colorway 04259)
Needle: Size 2 (2.75 mm)

It was a wonderful day to catch my breath, to walk outside and see the riot of colors in my own back yard and watch the butterfly acrobatics going on, to sweep the cobwebs out of the garage (and my head) and to finish my cheery socks, just in time for the cooler weather coming this weekend. All in all, just a good day.

We kept it simple in the kitchen for supper. Just something on the grill and a baked potato. But as I reached into the refrigerator to get butter for the potato, a full quart jar of Duke's mayonnaise fell off the top shelf. 

It hit the floor right at my feet and the jar exploded! In a fraction of a second I was covered in mayonnaise from my toes all the way up to my hair. I stood there in stunned silence for a minute and then began removing mayonnaise by the handful from my face and my hair. I reached for a towel to wipe off my pants and my bare feet. 

Granddaddy saw it happen. He was silent as he watched me begin to scrape the mayo off. Then he said just one word--Baby Sister's very best word. The word she says all the time now as things hit the floor, usually because she's thrown them there.  As he handed me the towel, sounding much like Baby Sister, he just said, "UH OH."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Calm Days Ahead

Last week was crazy. It involved (in addition to the regular activities) a wedding, a bridal shower, committees, two gallons of pasta salad, five dozen chicken salad puffs, a trip to the auto mechanic and an all-day gig with my ukulele band. There was lots of baby sitting, too, because Mommy's week included a visit from the plumber, the electrician and a carpenter.  I realized that I went two whole days without eating an actual meal--party food doesn't exactly count.

We were in need of a real sit-down meal and I had declared my kitchen closed. So last night we met Mommy and kids for a quick dinner. (Yes, I'm letting a bowl of chili at a diner count as the sit-down meal of the week.) It was just that kind of week. Thankfully that kind of week doesn't happen often.

Baby Sister might have whip lash today because her little head flipped back and forth at lightening speed last night to see everything that was happening. It seemed that a lot of moms and dads had declared their own kitchens "closed" last night, too. Lots and lots of children and parents arrived at Spice Diner all at the same time. It was a bit of a circus.

Look to the left.

Look to the right.

Every now and then stop for a bite.

Look to the left.

Look to the right. 
And so it went the whole time we were there.

And then Granddaddy needed a few minutes of baby time
before we left their house after supper.
"Granddaddy tickles my tummy."

"Then I tickle his tummy. I love playing this game!"

"He likes to ruffle my hair. 
Let's see how he likes to have his hair messed with.
See how that feels?"

So here I sit on a Monday morning, coffee in hand and enjoying the early morning quiet. Committee work is finished, the car is fixed, no one is getting married this week, no parties to cook for, no ukulele gigs for a few weeks.

I think I'm going to like the next few days. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Frost Is (Almost) On The Pumpkin

It's that time of year. Pumpkin spice lattes are back at Starbucks. Look for pumpkin ice cream at Trader Joe's. It's time to make pumpkin pies, pumpkin cake, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin anything. I like it all.

I made these two loaves last night to take to church this morning for the before-Sunday School coffee time. Both daughters have made this recipe many times. When Mommy taught kindergarten, she took it for snack time when they were talking about "fall things" and all the five-year-olds loved it.

If you make it in 8-inch foil pans, you can get three loaves from one recipe--one for you and two for giving. And it freezes well.

Pumpkin Bread

3-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
4 large eggs
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin

Stir together flour and remaining ingredients in a large blow until smooth. Divide batter evenly between 2 greased and floured 9-inch loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted into center of each loaf comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

OR you can divide between three 8-inch foil loaf pans and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until done.

And because I like autumn and pumpkins so much, I'll share another favorite recipe. No photo of this one, because I haven't made it yet this year. But trust me, it is a wonderful dessert. We had it first when a friend served it at a bridal luncheon for Mommy. Even people who say they don't like pumpkin, like this one. Just don't tell them what it is until they have tasted it!

Pumpkin Crunch

(15-oz) can pumpkin
(12-oz) can evaporated milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x13-inch dish. Mix the above ingredients and pour into dish.
Sprinkle 1 box Duncan Hines Yellow cake mix (dry, right out of box) over pumpkin mixture.
Melt 1-1/2 sticks butter and pour over cake mix.
Sprinkle 1-1/2 cups chopped nuts over the butter.

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees. Let cool completely.

1 box powdered sugar
8-oz. cream cheese, softened
8-oz. Cool Whip
Mix cream cheese and sugar. Then fold in Cool Whip and spread over top of dessert. Refrigerate until serving time. Cut into squares to serve. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon or chopped nuts to garnish.

Take this to your next church dinner and let people try to figure out what it is. Besides good! And how could I talk about fall and pumpkins and not think about this poem. Remember this?

When The Frost is On The Punkin 
by James Whitcomb Riley, 1853-1916

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me—
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Working Hard

Yesterday while Big Sister was hard at work in 5th grade and Mommy and Granddaddy were cleaning out the garage, Baby Sister was working hard, too.

Like trying to get the spoon to go in the mouth. More work than you think.

But with practice, it finally got there. 


Of course some of the yogurt didn't make it to the mouth.

What??? You mean I'm not finished for the day?

She moved on to the stairs. 

Mommy's probably going to wish she hadn't figured out how to do this.

But she has. She climbed all the way to the top. 

 Look out. Here comes trouble!

Because she hasn't a clue how to get down.

I just watched everyone else work all day. But by the time we got home that night, I think I was as tired as everyone else was. I needed a nap like Baby Sister got in the afternoon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Day At The Farm

Mommy had lots to do yesterday so we talked (begged) her into letting Baby Sister spend the day here at the farm. Baby is perpetual motion now and you can't blink or she's into something she shouldn't be. That makes it difficult--no, impossible--to get things done around the house while keeping up with her.

Her first stop at our house was the stack of books on the coffee table. 
Look at the one she chose to pull off! Funny reading for a 1-year-old.

We did have one problem, though. She loved playing with the farm toy. Push the pig and it goes "oink" and push the horse and it goes "neigh," then push the cow. The cow goes "moo" and the baby goes "waaaaaaa!!!" That happened every time. Baby Sister just screamed every time the cow went "moo."
This could be a problem given the fact we live on a farm that raises beef cattle! We will see what happens when she meets a real cow.

To calm her down, Granddaddy took her for a walk. She loves going outside. 
And she loves her granddaddy.

They checked out everything in the back yard.

 Even what was on the ground.

The pecan tree is loaded this year. It's time to start picking up pecans.

 Baby Sister watched with interest as her granddaddy cracked open
the first pecans of the season.

And before I could say "Don't!" Granddaddy had let her taste a pecan crumb. Just a crumb size piece. Before I could fish it out of her mouth, she spit it out.  <whew>  Disaster averted.

After a good long nap--Baby Sister napped, not me--we headed back up the road to Mommy's. Maybe we can make "farm day" a regular event. I think Baby Sister would like it. I KNOW we would like it.