Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kitchen Help

When her farm work was done yesterday, 
Baby Sister came to the kitchen to help Mimi with supper.
While Mimi was busy at the stove, Baby Sister was busy with her own work.

She stirred and stirred.

And then she discovered that the bowl and spoon also made pretty good music.

Stacking was part of the play, too. 
The den floor was full of toys but she had much more fun with the non-toys in the kitchen.

It will be interesting years from now to see what Baby Sister remembers from spending time at the farm. And what things she learned here will be lasting. I remember setting the table at my grandmother's house many times. She had a set of dishes where each place setting was a different color. I spent much time deciding whether to make each place setting one color or mix them up for a fun table. She always let me do it how I wanted to. I still love to set the table. A lesson I learned from MY grandmother.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rainy Day Farm Work

All the farming was done indoors today because of the rain.  Granddaddy had time to give Baby Sister a lesson in farm management and agri-business. (Notice she has several farms.)

She listened very carefully.

And then it was time for her to go to work. With only a little help from her granddaddy.

Looks like it's going to be a good year for toy farms.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Say "Cheese"

A friend posted this easy recipe on her Facebook status this weekend as she was cooking for Thursday. I know she is a fabulous cook so I was happy to get one of her recipes. I had (almost) everything on hand already. So I quickly made it when we got home from the family dinner on Thursday. It was our post-Thanksgiving treat.

It is supposed to be shaped into a ball with the preserves spooned over the top, but I really wanted to use this favorite serving dish so we re-arranged the assembly part. I will actually make it into a ball next time. Thanks, Jackie, for a wonderful recipe and for letting me share it here. We'll use one this again and again, I'm sure.

Rosemary Goat Cheese Ball

4 oz. goat cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
fig preserves

Mix cheeses, honey, pepper and rosemary until blended. Shape into a ball. Spoon fig preserves over the ball and serve with crackers or crudites.

Jackie's recipe calls for fig preserves and I had a jar of homemade fig preserves in the pantry. I will say it's a perfect combination, but I'm sure you could use another flavor. What I didn't have on hand was the honey so I substituted some light corn syrup and that worked.  Don't be skimpy with the pepper or the rosemary. It took longer than I thought to grind a teaspoon of pepper, but I'm glad I didn't stop when I wanted to.

Tonight the "big game*" will be on television so we will pull this out of the refrigerator for a game appetizer. How nice to have it ready and waiting.

*The Clemson/University of South Carolina football rivalry dates back to the 1880s. The game series has been played uninterrupted since 1909.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Berry Berry Good

Our Thanksgiving dinner is the kind where everyone brings a dish (or two...or three) to add to the buffet. Before she drove home for the holiday, Jessica sent me the recipe for this cranberry-apple dish and asked that I buy the ingredients when I did my grocery shopping. Then she was ready to cook when she got here. I already had everything on hand. I love recipes that don't require lots of "odd" ingredients.

Several people yesterday declared this the "best recipe" of the year. It could be a dessert (ummm....add a scoop of vanilla ice cream) as well as a side dish. Leftovers weren't too bad for breakfast either! Come on...it's oatmeal and fruit, isn't it?

Cranberry Apple Crunch
4-6 apples (red delicious or granny smith), peeled and sliced thin
2 cups fresh cranberries 
¾ - 1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water

Mix ingredients and put in a 9x13-inch dish, sprayed with PAM

1 cup old-fashioned oats (quick oats would work, too)
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts
1 stick of butter, melted

Spread topping over fruit mixture in dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 min.
(also good with vanilla ice cream for dessert!)

Yesterday morning was such good family time in our kitchen. Granddaddy peeling apples, Jessica measuring and stirring, while I was busy with other cooking. These are good holiday memories. Having these recipes to hand down is part of what makes us "family."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our family celebrated as we usually do...
with lots of food, lots of relatives, and lots of laughter.
We are thankful for much.

As we packed up to come home, there were others who were headed to another set of relatives to celebrate again. I am happy to be back at home with a few leftovers for supper. I'll share a few special recipes from today over the weekend, but for the rest of the evening, I'm disconnecting from the web.

"What? We're going to ANOTHER Thanksgiving dinner now?"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pie Spectacular

I've still not spent any time in the kitchen since I've had all the sinus-y problems  (I am beginning to feel better, thankfully) so I'm sharing this recipe from Mommy. She sent the photo and the recipe last night. She made this last year and her family declared it wonderful. I will say it must be a labor of love. Most of my recipes are pretty quick and easy, but there are times when you just need to do a little more. 

Yesterday I posted about "knitted love." I think this must be "kitchen love." If you don't knit and you don't cook, just say the words "I love you" to someone who needs to hear them today. 

Here is the email I got from Mommy last night:  
(Looks like her someone special got into the pie before she got the topping ready.)

Make this for someone you love.  (Or maybe make it for someone you'd like to love YOU!)

PUMPKIN PIE SPECTACULAR from Southern Living November 2009
MAKES 8 Servings
HANDS-ON TIME: 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 3 hours, 25 minutes (including streusel and topping)

1/2 (15-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts
2 cups crushed gingersnaps (about 40 gingersnaps)
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
Pecan Streusel
7 ginger thin cookies, halved  (i.e., Anna's Ginger Thins)
Ginger-Spice Topping, ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Fit piecrust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp.

2. Stir together crushed gingersnaps and next 3 ingredients.  Press mixture on bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of piecrust.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes.)

4. Stir together pumpkin and next 6 ingredients until well blended.  Pour into prepared crust.  Place pie on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle Pecan Streusel around the edge of crust.  Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until set, shielding edges with aluminum foil during last 25 to 30 minutes of baking, if necessary.  Insert ginger cookies around edge of crust.  Let cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour.)  Dollop with Ginger-Spice Topping; dust with cinnamon.

MAKES About 1 cup
HANDS-ON TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes

Stir together 1/4 cup all-purpose flour; 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar; 2 Tbsp. melted butter; and 3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped.

MAKES 3 cups
HANDS-ON TIME: 5 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 5 minutes

Stir together 1 (8-oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed; 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon; and 1/4 tsp. ground ginger.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Knitted Love

The good thing about sitting at home more than usual is that I finished a pair of socks in record time.

Yarn:  Cascade Heritage sock yarn
Needles:  Size 2 (2.75 mm)

When I had complained commented on a Ravelry forum about the unexciting plain gray socks I was working on, someone wiser than me replied...
I do a lot of sock knitting, often in boring colors for the people I love. Yes, it doesn’t have the same impact as knitting with some wonderfully colorful new self-patterning yarn in luscious colors, where each row is revealing new color combinations.
But that same boring “same-old, same-old” can also be wonderfully calming and therapeutic when my day has been full of stress, deadlines, rude people. In the prayer-shawl knitting, they talk about knitting prayers into the work. I often find myself praying or holding the intended recipient in my mind as I knit. I try to knit in a little “knitter’s magic” to help the wearer have protection in his day-to-day activities, especially if he’s going to be in dangerous places (police, soldiers), might do dangerous things by accident or on a dare (children, adolescents), or needs healing (the chronically ill or those facing surgery). I think about all the wonderful adventures these socks will have, and the many places he’ll take them in the course of their life.
I charge socks with having a special destiny, to keep the wearer warm and protected, no matter what each day holds.
May your socks carry the same magic every time he wears them.

Thank you for these words of wisdom. My plain gray socks have gone on to their new owner already. May these socks bless the wearer. Hope she will feel the "knitted love."

Now it's time to feel better and get back into the kitchen

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Face

My kitchen has been closed this week while I've been hunkered down under a blanket. But I did come out long enough to tag along with Granddaddy to watch Baby Sister today while Mommy headed to the airport to pick up Daddy.

This happy little face would make anyone feel better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tea And Sympathy

I'm not posting anything new at the moment. 
I'm staying under a blanket for a day or so.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Turkey Time

Yarn: Sugar 'n Cream
Needles: Size 5

What a fun little knitting project! It could be done in one evening of after dinner TV watching (especially if it's football on the telly.) This little turkey is going in the mail to someone I've never met, a Ravelry friend who kindly sent me a little knitted gift. So this one is a surprise for her--a knitted thank you!

Pretty sure I'll make more of these before Thanksgiving. (If you are a newer knitter, make sure you know how to yarn over before a purl stitch before you start, or you'll do like me and end up a stitch short about row 25.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stay-At-Home Night

It was one of those nights when we discussed what was the easiest--going out to dinner or cooking at home. Cooking is sometimes easier. 

Tonight I made a quick soup. A perfect choice since we had both been out in the cold most of the day. The recipe is a favorite here. I like this soup because--in addition to being really good--it doesn't make a huge amount. There will be some left over but not so much that we have to eat it for days and days.

North Woods Bean Soup

2-3 teaspoons olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled & diced (or 1 cup baby carrots, quartered)
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic (or 1 teaspoon jarred minced garlic)
7 oz. turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (15.8 ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained & rinsed
fresh baby spinach leaves

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic and kielbasa. Saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes. Add broth, Italian seasoning, pepper and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

Place 2 cups of soup in blender and process until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pot and simmer 5 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Add a large handful (about half a regular-size bag is good), stirrring until spinach wilts.

Serves 5 (1-1/2 cup servings)

There are three bowls out tonight because Jessica got home from the big city in time to eat with us. So good to have her here for a couple of days. She brought her knitting home to get a little help from the "knitter-in-chief." (That would be me.) 

When we both pulled out our knitting projects after supper, it was funny to see how different our projects were. She loves bulky wool and large huge needles. And I'm working with sock yarn on tiny needles. Jessica says mine looks like doll house knitting.

She has a squishy-soft cowl and a fun headband/ear warmer on her needles at the moment. And I'm making socks. Just plain gray socks. She'll be done with her two projects before I finish the socks. Maybe I should check out the giant needle kind of projects next time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Country Road

This is our road. The farm is just around the curve. So glad I live here. Where it's okay to stop in the middle of the road and make a photo. Where it's quiet. Where it's beautiful. Yes, I'm glad we live here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cranberry Time

Let's see...in less than 48 hours this weekend, I attended a fabulous 'Holiday For Her' dinner, a wonderful baby shower, a college football game (we won!), spent some time with Baby Sister and taught Sunday School. It's a good thing I baked this cranberry bread earlier in the week to take to church this morning. It was my turn to bring something to go with the coffee.

I almost didn't share the recipe because the bread didn't slice very well this morning. I  was in a hurry and just grabbed a knife out of the drawer in the church kitchen. But tonight after supper, I cut a slice for us. When I used my serrated knife (using a sawing motion) it cut nicely. It tasted good this morning even though it looked a little crumbly.

This quick bread recipe is easy but you do have to pull out a couple of extra kitchen tools. I love my old glass juicer. I've owned all sorts of newer juicers, including an electric one, but I think this one works best.

But I like a newer tool for the easiest way to get fresh orange peel. A Microplane grater works magic. Be careful with it. It is surgically sharp. I like to wash it immediately after using it and put it right back into the plastic guard.

If you want to go a step beyond a box of cranberry bread mix (and I like that, too), give this recipe a try. Don't skimp on the orange peel. This recipe came from one of Baby Sister's NICU nurses. So glad we met Carole. For many reasons!

Cranberry Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup orange juice 
2 tablespoons cooking oil 
1 well-beaten egg
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest

Mix until blended.

Stir in:
1-1/2 cups chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Place in greased 9-inch loaf pan and bake about 55 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on a rack.

It will slice better if it is made the day before you need it. Bake it, let it cool completely and wrap tightly and store overnight.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's Magic

One of the true grandmother joys (and there are many) is taking a child to a special event. One you likely would not have attended without a child in tow. Last night was one of those magical moments. Big Sister and I went to the Peace Center. Just the two of us. Big Sister is busy with school and her other activities so I don't see her as much as I see her little sister now, so last night was a real treat. She is quite the conversationalist. I was delighted to listen.

There is always excitement as the theater begins to fill. You can feel the anticipation. Movies are wonderful but live theater is magic. Big Sister wanted to know who gets to sit in a box. Next time I'll see if I can get tickets there.

We went to see Peter Pan, such a old story that is still a favorite. I grew up watching the Mary Martin version on television, in a time long ago and far away, before DVRs existed. So when the TV special was aired once a year, it was a huge family event. Now that you can watch anything over and over, nothing is quite so special anymore. Kind of sad.

When you wait until two days before the play to buy tickets, you'd better bring along binoculars. But we discovered that sitting in the balcony had an advantage. The stage lighting was spectacular. And if you couldn't see the stage floor, you would have missed some of the best effects.

Fairy dust! It was all about the fairy dust and learning to fly. Cathy Rigby (remember her from the 1968 Olympics?) soared around at high speed, flipping and turning. She was totally believable as a young boy. Considering that she is close enough to my own age that we could have been in high school together, that is more than amazing.


Beautiful sets, wonderful dancing, lovely music for two hours. And then the magic was over and it was time to go home, way past Big Sister's bedtime. But tonight will last in my memory a long time. I hope she remembers the evening for a long time, too. Thank you, Big Sister, for a lovely evening.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Off The Needles

NOTE: If you were one of the first few people to read yesterday's blog, there was an error in the recipe. I corrected it quickly, but before you make the pumpkin chili, check to be sure you have the correct amount of pumpkin and beans. Sorry!

In the middle of busy days, there is usually time for at least a few minutes with needles and yarn in hand. There is something soothing in the rhythmic movements of my hands as they loop the yarn around the needles. Over and over, the same movement lulls me into calmness.

Sometimes I'm making something is for myself. Doesn't matter how long it takes when it's for me. I can experiment, try new techniques or try a new yarn. Sometimes--very often, in fact--I'm knitting for another. There isn't a better way to say "thinking of you" than making something special. And then I'll usually fall back on a pattern that's tried and true--one I can make in a hurry.

In a rare occurrence I finished two projects this week. That doesn't mean I'm a fast knitter. It just means I chose easy patterns!

The Baktus is a wonderful scarf because it can be worn many ways...as a small shawl or tied around your neck--point in front or back. I've found at least four ways to tie it. So far.

Pattern: Lacy Baktus
Needles: Size 5
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Sock (color is Tart)

Yesterday I pulled out a pattern I've used many times and made a cap for a new baby that is due any day now. I'll deliver it today to my friend who is the grandmother. I love the vintage look of this soft pink. There is a touch of Angora in this cotton yarn that makes it feel as soft as the color looks.

Pattern: Kid's Fruit Cap by Ann Norling
Needles: Size 6
Yarn: Plymouth Baby Bunny

Now, all of a sudden, I find my knitting bag empty. That is exciting because I can start all over again. But only after spending time in the kitchen today. Let's hope a new recipe for cranberry bread turns out well. If you don't see it here soon, you'll know I'm looking for a better recipe!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


We went to Baby Sister's house last night to take part in the Halloween fun. I even went with them to a neighborhood party with lots of wizards, zombies and space travelers. Baby Pumpkin (aka Baby Sister) loved watching all the big kids running around. She took it all in. Then Baby Pumpkin went next door for her very first "trick or treat" (her only house to visit this year.) After that we went home to hand out candy. And Mommy surprised us by having this chili ready for our supper.
This recipe is one Mommy found on a blog she enjoys reading. So glad she tried it. (As usual, it's been tweaked a bit to suit us.) It was perfect for a cold night and the pumpkin in it made a good seasonal choice. Pumpkin??? Did I really say pumpkin? Yes. Yes, I did. 

Don't freak out at the pumpkin in the recipe. Most people's first pumpkin thought is pumpkin pie with all the good sweet spices. But pumpkin by itself is not sweet or spicy. Here you won't really taste it, but it helps thicken the chili, adds some extra nutrients, and gives it a nice color. You'll just have to trust us. It works perfectly. If you've ever had White Chicken Chili and liked it, this is better. The ingredient list looks long, but it's basically just a "throw it all in the pot" kind of recipe. One that is so, so good!

Turkey, White Bean & Pumpkin Chili

PAM cooking spray
2 lb. ground turkey breast
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (from a jar)
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
Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, minced cilantro, etc.

Heat large skillet over high heat and spray with PAM. 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

If there hadn't been so much going on last night, Mommy said she would have made cornbread to go with this. That must mean there's going to be a next time!