Sunday, January 26, 2014

Last Week's Fun

The sun rises every day over our barn. Many days I capture the moment. It reminds me that each day is a fresh start. I headed off down the interstate this morning for a quick visit with Jessica. It was time to catch up with her after a visit with Mommy, Big Sister and Little Sister last week. Of course, part of our lunch visit was me telling her about what I did last week with her sister and nieces.

I did have fun making a grandmother visit for almost a week. The pink hat was a hit! And she needed a good warm hat for the cold weather they were having.

Color: Milk Chocolate
Needles: sizes 7 & 8

On the way from the airport we stopped by Mockingbird Moon, a wonderful yarn shop close to their house. Mommy knows what I like! I found a yummy new (to me) yarn and made a cap for Daddy while I was out there. I think he was the only one who had not received a handknit from me. Did he want a knitted cap from his mother-in-law? I don't know. But I feel better knowing that I haven't overlooked him.

Mockingbird Moon has a play space for kids, so it's always a good stop for Little Sister as well as for her Mimi. This trip the shop owner told her, "See you later, alligator!" as we were leaving. Since Little Sister only smiled, a customer responded with, "Afterwhile, crocodile!" But when we got home, she was all about the alligator/crocodile send-off. We practiced and practiced while I was there. She will be ready next time. We might just have to nudge the shop owner to say it again.

We spent so much time playing with the blocks. See the block at her ear? The top of it has a curve. Makes it look much like a telephone. (The little square block behind her was the keypad.) And it WAS a phone the whole time I was there. Little Sister had many long, involved conversations with "Kayci" every day. This one included an, "Oh, that sounds serious!" After she "hung up" I asked her what was serious. She told me, "Oh, Kayci got hit by a car." Yep, that sounds pretty serious.

A trip to the airport is fun for Little Sister because this airport has giant checkers for her to play with. Or rather, play on. I'm glad it is a happy trip, even if I'm leaving.

After the checker fun, it was time to say good-bye. Until next time.

Pattern: Honey Cowl
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh DK 
Color: Morning Dove 
Needles: size 8

All of that airport time meant I finished this cowl soon after I got home. Put it in the mail yesterday as a very, very early birthday gift. Sleet is predicted for the birthday girl this week, so she should get it just in time. Should be a real surprise since her birthday is a couple of months away. But she needs it now!

Another endorsement for the Cauliflower Soup---I made it one night for supper while out there visiting. Little Sister ate her first bite, paused for a second, then waved her spoon for emphasis as she stated, "Now...THAT is good!" (The rest of them liked it, too. Big Sister even took a thermos of it to school for her lunch the next day.)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Smart Phone Fun

This is what happens when Little Sister gets Mimi's iPhone. She has a quick trigger finger.

Understand that each of these photos were individual photos. And this was only about 20% of the ones she made--all of her face. I made a screen shot of these as I was deleting about a hundred like this.

Totally amazing how easy it is for a three year old to operate a smart phone.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Up Up and Away

Let's hope this plane lands in the right place today. Enough of this wrong airport business!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, January 17, 2014

Almost Ready

I am in the process of packing. Leaving in the morning to go visit Little Sister and the rest of her family. One thing that I'm excited to pack is the pink cap I made for Little Sister last week. She picked the yarn out herself the last time I was out there. The wonderful yarn shop, Mockingbird Moon, even has a play area for little ones, so she likes going there with Mimi.

We looked at several pink yarns but she never changed her mind.  She continued to point to the same yarn as we shopped. "This one!" And so it was decided—pink Lamb's Pride wool. I started a couple of different patterns before Christmas that just didn't feel right. Then a Ravelry friend, Sonja, made cute red caps this winter and when I saw that pattern, I knew that's what I was looking for.

Yarn: Lamb's Pride worsted
Needles: size 7

The pink cap was finished quickly. Except for the pompom. When I commented on my Ravelry page that it was all done but I was waiting to make the pompom, another dear Ravelry friend, Diane, read that and promptly dropped a set of pompom makers in the mail to me. (Love these long distance Ravelry folks--they are the online/knitting equilvalent of penpals we used to have years ago.) 

Diane also tucked a page from At Knit's End (by Stephanie Pearl-McPhree) into the package. I have read it several times. It is totally appropriate for this trip. Here is a sentence from that short essay...
Just because he says he wants purple mittens, and you believe you have knit purple mitten, is no reason to believe that the three-year-old in question will believe that these are indeed purple mittens.
And the essay ends with this....
I will remember not to knit for three-year-olds unless I am going to be pretty relaxed about rejection. 
We will find out soon if Little Sister thinks this is a pink cap. And if she likes it.

This will be a quick trip, but even so Daddy-O must stay home to babysit the cows. They must be fed daily during the winter. So I am preparing a few things that will make meals easy for him until I get back. This pot roast is cooking now while I pack. It's a good recipe. It's easy. It freezes well. What more could you want. (I'll divide this up into smaller portions for the freezer.) If you haven't tried this, it's a recipe we have loved.


beef roast, about 3-lbs (I like a chuck roast, but others will work)
1 packet Italian dressing mix, dry
1 packet ranch dressing mix, dry
1 packet brown gravy mix, dry
1 cup water.

Place roast into Crockpot. Sprinkle all the dry mixes over the top. Pour water over all. (I used a fork and lightly mixed the dry stuff up a little here.) Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.

I know the sun will rise in the midwest, too, 
but I'll miss this view for the next few days.

Remember the Cauliflower Soup I made last week? I got this email a few days ago from a Canadian reader of this blog. You really need to try it, too.

"We had your cauliflower soup recipe for supper on the basis of Daddy-O's recommendation, and [my wife] says we are going to have it once a week from now on! "

Friday, January 10, 2014

Soup, Glorious Soup

"This is quite edible." We've been married for 34 years. This is the highest praise any of my soups has ever received. Daddy-O said he this was his favorite soup ever. (Daddy-O is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, who doesn't particularly care for soup.)

Now, get ready for this—it was CAULIFLOWER soup! And I'll agree, it was really, really good. I've had the recipe lying on the kitchen counter for a couple of weeks. I bought the head of cauliflower several days ago. But I just couldn't bring myself to actually make it. Until last night. We had lunch yesterday at our favorite local restaurant. Meatloaf and smashed potatoes was the special. They make really good meatloaf.

So, to balance that delicious but filling lunch, I told Daddy-O that I was going to try the cauliflower soup for supper. He just looked at me. I think he figured I'd put it off again. But since I didn't have another plan, I pulled out the cauliflower, a carrot and a rib of celery. It's a soup that takes a little work, but none of it is hard. Takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. It's rich and creamy, filled with healthy vegetables. It makes a big pot full. I'll have it for lunch today, but there will still be some left. I will put that in the freezer and see what happens. If it's a freezable soup, this really will be a super (pardon the pun) recipe!

          ... adapted from Taste Of Home

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets (I didn't use the thick stems)
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/4 cup chopped celery
2-1/2 cups water
1 chicken bouillon cube (or 2 tsp. instant bouillon)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
few drops of hot pepper sauce, or to taste (I used Texas Pete)

In a large saucepan, combine the cauliflower, carrot, celery, water and bouillon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Do not drain!

In another saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper until smooth. (I used a whisk.) Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat and stir in cheese until melted. Add hot pepper sauce, if desired.

Stir the cheese sauce into the cauliflower mixture. (I used a potato masher and then mashed the cauliflower some, so that there weren't such big pieces. Make the texture suit you.)

Makes about 2 quarts

We garnished it with a little extra cheese. And Daddy-O thought a little crumbled bacon on top would have been nice, too.  Maybe next time.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Knit A Little Love

Pattern: Basic Vanilla Sock, cast on 60 stitches
Yarn:  Paton's Kroy Sock Stripe--Blue Ragg
Needle Size:  2

Knitting gifts for Christmas is always risky business because the calendar seems to move into warp speed once you pass Thanksgiving. All the plans that sounded reasonable weeks before change into "what was I thinking" mode. But I ALMOST finished these fun striped socks in time to put in Jessica's Christmas stocking. They were done a couple of days late, but in time for her to take back to Atlanta with her.

Pattern: Turn A Square
Yarn: Ella Rae Classic Solid & Noro Silk Garden
Needle Size:  5 & 7

This week, I have taken advantage of some slower days after the holiday rush to try a pattern that's been on my to-do list for a long time. Two more gifts checked off my list. Why did I think this was a hard pattern? This hat could easily be a one-afternoon project. I did each of them in a couple of shorter sessions. I still need another hat to finish my Christmas list. If I were really smart, I would start my planning and knitting for next Christmas right now! (Two hats from one skein of the solid and one skein of the Noro.)

Here's my knitting tip for the day—put your work on a tray instead of in a knitting bag to easily move it around in the house. It's great for keeping the little bits and pieces contained and it's easy to see everything at once. I might move from TV knitting to by-the-window knitting to fireplace knitting. I like the tray.

Yes, I know. You've seen this photo already. But it makes me smile to see Little Sister so intent on working along side Jessica and taking her "knitting" so seriously.

And it's not too late to share a recipe I made while everyone was here, is it? Pancakes for everyone is a sure winner. This is almost as easy as a bought mix and so much better. Mix your dry ingredients the night before and it's super quick. (I made a double batch for our full house.)


1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
vegetable oil for the griddle (about 1 tablespoon)

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to milk mixture; whisk until just moistened. (Do not overmix; a few small lumps are okay.)

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium to low. Lightly oil griddle, using a paper towel to spread the oil. Pour about 1/4 cup batter (for each pancake) onto griddle. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst. Flip carefully with a spatula, and cook until browned on the underside. Remove to plate. Serve warm, with butter and maple syrup.

Serves 4 (or 2 very hungry people.) Makes about 12 pancakes.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Worth The Wait

Like grandparents everywhere, we've spent the days after Christmas talking about our "full house" days during the Christmas week. The memories, thankfully, last longer than the visits. One moment that struck us funny was when Mommy asked Little Sister to go tell her daddy and Daddy-O that supper was ready. She bounced into the den and in her three-year-old voice shouted, "Come on, boys!" 

But there is an even better memory. I was lucky enough to have the camera handy when I spied the long line of farm animals on our kitchen table. Little Sister was still in her pajamas and was playing after breakfast while Jessica sat there with her. I walked by and asked why all the animals were in a line. "They're waiting to see Pioneer Woman!" she replied. (See the Pioneer Woman standing at the left corner of the barn?) Waiting on the Pioneer Woman was a memorable event in Little Sister's short life.

For the uninformed, the Pioneer Woman has a TV cooking show (that Little Sister loves to watch) and a wildly popular blog and has written a couple of cookbooks. The celebrity chef made a public appearance to sign her new cookbook in November at a store near Mommy's house. They went to get books autographed for Christmas gifts.

Mommy was prepared for a wait, but no one anticipated how long that wait would be. Mommy said because of how the line of people snaked through store aisles, she couldn't see how long the line was, so they didn't know what they were in for. I don't even want to tell you how long they (yes, Mommy and both sisters) waited for the books. 

But patience paid off. The books were signed. And they got a terrific photo with the famous Pioneer Woman. Little Sister is a genuine fan and stirs and seasons her pretend cooking, just like her TV mentor. So this photo is priceless!

And maybe as a cosmic gift for that long wait, they happened up on Marlboro Man, too! (That's what the Pioneer Woman calls her husband.) So they got a second photo. It was a miserably long wait, but that's the kind of family thing that will be talked about for years. Mommy said the girls were troopers.

And the books? Yep, I was thrilled to get one on Christmas Day. Can't wait to try the recipes. I have used several of her recipes from her blog and all were wonderful. I know these are, too. Thank you, Mommy, Big Sister and Little Sister for a wonderful Christmas gift. 

("Long journey--part of gift." Last line from a great little story I've told my girls over and over. They'll know.)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Baked With Love

Happy birthday to Mommy!

There is a "Part 2" to our New Year's Day traditional meal that I didn't tell you about when I posted our peas and collards meal a couple of days ago. For years, that meal always included birthday cake for dessert. Mommy was born on January 2 thirty-two years ago and her family birthday dinner was alway combined with the New Year's Day meal. Until this year.

Her family left the farm earlier than planned to get home ahead of their snow. So I didn't get to bake her a cake this year. After a couple of sad text messages on her actual birthday about not having a cake this year, I zapped a quick text to son-in-law who said he would try to make her a cake if I would send him a recipe.

I emailed him the recipe that my mother used for our birthday cakes. (Thank goodness for the quickness of email and text communication!) My mother got the recipe from our cousin Jackie, whose cooking was legendary in our family. It is the easiest homemade cake I've ever made. Easy enough for a "non-baker" to make. I included an easy caramel frosting recipe, too, because that's Mommy's favorite.

Last night I received a couple of pictures of son-in-law's baking success. He's a good husband for taking the time to bake a caramel cake after he came home from work. (He gets extra points for making a layer cake—I usually bake it in a 9x13-inch pan because it's easier.) It was the day after her birthday, but that's pretty darn close in the grand scheme of things.


2 cups self-rising flour 
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Beat until well mixed.  This can be baked in layers or 13x9x2 pan. (Greased and floured, of course; or use baking spray.) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and top springs back when lightly touched. 


2/3 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1/3 cup milk
3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)

In a saucepan over low heat add butter--melt. Add brown sugar--stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add milk--stir and cook while you bring it to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar while stirring--keep stirring until thick enough to use as frosting.

(I used a wire whisk to add in the powdered sugar until it got thick and then I switched to a heavy spoon.  This frosting hardens, so ice your cake quickly.)

Family events get harder to observe as we spread out around the country. I just realized that this family drove nearly 4,000 miles to be home for Thanksgiving AND Christmas this year. Bless 'em!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

2014 is here!

Here in the South, the new year usually starts with the "good luck" meal of black eyed peas, collards, pork and cornbread. I was not about to test the theory and cook something different! According to Southern Living, "These two Southern classics all but guarantee a prosperous year. Some say the greens represent dollar bills and the peas, coins, ensuring wealth and luck."

I cooked collards a couple of days early, so that we could freeze some for Jessica to take back to Atlanta with her. For Mommy, Daddy and the sisters, we bought canned collards that would survive a two-day drive home. Yes, we take this tradition seriously.

I know, I know. Good southern cooks wouldn't need a recipe. But I do. If cooking greens is not on your regular meal rotation, this recipe from Paula Deen is a good one.


1/2 lb. smoked meat (ham hocks, smoked turkey wings or smoked neck bones--I use turkey wings)
2-3 teaspoons House Seasoning*
1-2 teaspoons Lawrys' Seasoning Salt
2 bags frozen chopped collards (or 1 large bunch of fresh collards, cleaned and sliced)
1 tablespoon butter

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and add smoked meat, house seasoning and seasoned salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour.
Add frozen greens and butter. Cook for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning to taste.

*House Seasoning: 1 cup salt, 1/4  cup black pepper, 1/4 cup garlic powder. Mix together and store in airtight container.

Another recipe I made for New Year IS a regular in our kitchen. It's easy to prep, then you pop it into the oven for an hour where it cooks unattended. 


1/2 cup regular rice
1 can Campbell's 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.