Monday, August 31, 2015

Saturday's Supper

Steak & Asparagus with Feta Cream Sauce

We stayed home this weekend and did lazy things. Watched a couple of movies. (Woman In Gold was my favorite of the two.)  Finished a couple of books. (Delicious! by Ruth Reichl was pretty good.)  Worked on a new knitting project. Watched it rain a little. And we cooked one delicious meal.

The miserably hot summer temperatures have eased up and we can finally enjoy being out on our porch again. The hummingbirds kept us company at breakfast time all weekend. Coffee. Newspaper. Hummingbirds. Porch. Life is good.

I counted five of them on Saturday as they fought and chased each other away from the feeder. But for one moment, these four managed to get along for about three seconds.

Now back to our Saturday supper. There isn't anything easier than throwing steaks on the grill. And nothing that Daddy-O loves better. But instead of both of us eating a big ribeye, I went in a slightly different direction. I chose a flat iron steak to go on the grill and then we sliced it thinly and served it on top of roasted asparagus.

Serving steak like this is a way to stretch your meat budget. And some of you might be looking to cut back on the amount of meat you eat for health reasons. But this supper was all about the sauce. It only took a few minutes to mix it together. It turned an already good meal into something special. Give it a try.

      —adapted from The Kitchn

(6-oz) package crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Combine feta, sour cream, vinegar and olive oil in food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and pulse the blender one more time. Pour sauce into a bowl and stir in chives.

We thinly sliced the flat iron steak and arranged it over the roasted asparagus. Then we spooned the sauce over it all.

What did you do over the weekend? Did you try any new recipes? Read a book you'd recommend?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Persistence Pays Off


Remember my frustration with the knitting project that had taken forever? I was so tired of looking at the pile on yarn in my lap that I wasn't sure I was even going to like it when I got to the end. I just wanted it to be over.

Pattern: Pebble Beach, medium size
Yarn:  Mrs. Crosby Loves To Play, Satchel,  Colorway: Wild Huckleberry
Needles: size 6

But I didn't quit. The shawl is done. Finished. Complete. Finally. And I LOVE it. I absolutely love it.

You are never really sure when you start a new pattern with a new yarn. It is a huge commitment to spent so much time and then hope the outcome is a good one. Sometimes it isn't. Those are the ones when I tell myself "I'm learning from the experience. I'm learning from my mistakes"—but I'm still not happy about all the time I spent on a flop.

No flop here. This one makes me happy! It was worth the wait. Worth the frustration. (The frustration was all mine---the pattern is perfect.) Now I'm wishing for cooler weather so that I can enjoy it. Maybe I'll turn the air conditioning down and wear it inside. (No. I won't. That's wasteful. But it's tempting.) Think Daddy-O might take me to the mountains just so I can wear a shawl? It's a thought...

noun: persistence
  1. firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sunday's Salad

There was a covered dish dinner at church on Sunday. After many years of getting up early on Sunday morning to cook something, I finally got smart and picked a recipe that I could make the day before. The second smart thing I did was to look back* through my recipes here on the blog to find something I knew was good. This salad is always a hit and it's better when made the day before. 

To keep from washing more pots, when the water for the pasta came to a boil, I dunked in the broccoli to blanch it for a minute. (Yep, I held it by the stem and dunked it.) Then I let the corn (on the cob) cook for five minutes and took it out. Then I cooked the pasta in the same water. Less to clean up.

This time I used rotini and my veggies were onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, zucchini, grape tomatoes, broccoli and corn. You can use any combination. If you are going to the store to buy vegetables for this, look for the vegetables that are not prepackaged. It only takes about one each (or less) of the vegetables listed. 


1 (16-oz) box of pasta -- bowtie, penne, or rotini
5 cups of chopped fresh vegetables
fresh parsley, chopped (if you have it)
1 (16-oz) bottle Italian salad dressing

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Rinse under cold water. Drain well. Put pasta and vegetables and parsley into a large bowl. Add salad dressing and Salad Supreme Seasoning. Toss gently until mixed well. Cover. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or until ready to serve.

This recipe filled a 5-quart plastic container.

*There are two ways to look for recipes here. You can use the Recipe Index tab just under the blog header. Or, you can use the search box found in the top left corner. That search box is small but it's there--it has the magnifying glass "search" symbol in the box.

Covered Dish Dinner Success


Monday, August 24, 2015

Cows, Calves, Goats, And Kids (The Human Kind)

Some families are sports families. I know band parents, who spend their weekends working the concession stand to make money to keep the band afloat. There are dance moms and swim team families. There are academic teams and science events for other folks.

But no one works harder than these 4H families. This past weekend, moms and dads hauled kids and cows (and goats and rabbits and dogs) from all over the state to spend hours in a hot barn to show their animals. Judging is based on the condition of the animal and the skill of the handler. It is serious business.

Showing animals involves the entire family. Moms were brushing cows. Dads were grooming goats. Brothers and sisters tagged along to and help out where they could.

In the not-so-serious category, this year, for the first time there, was a category for cow costumes. The children showing these cows also were in costume. This was just plain fun.

Daddy-O worked hard, along with other members of the Cattlemen's Association, to put this show together. The show gets bigger every year. It was nice to see kids doing something that didn't involve a cellphone for a change!

And for those of you worried about Daddy-O going hungry during my don't-want-to-cook-spell...while he was busy with the livestock show, I spent most of Saturday in the kitchen cooking to restock the freezer. A 3-Packet Pot Roast in the slow cooker was divided into three small bags and frozen. (Remember there are only two of us here.) Meatballs in marinara in two small bags. Chicken was cooked and half frozen and the other half made into chicken salad. Pork chops and brown rice was cooked for supper—and half of that was frozen for later, too. And I made a huge bowl of pasta salad that went to church yesterday. And some of that came back home, so we will have that to eat this week. He's not going to starve.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Almost Not Cooking

I told Daddy-O that I have lost all interest in cooking. He instantly fired back, "Well, you'd better get over it. I haven't lost interest in eating." And he is completely right.

I headed to some favorite blogs, ones with recipes I trust and that we usually like. The writer of Southern Plate is a southerner like us, and her recipes are easy and good. Many are ones I grew up with. A cousin called me once to ask if I had the lemon pie recipe that both our mothers made—and neither mother wrote down. I didn't have it, but soon after that conversation, the lemon pie recipe popped up on the Southern Plate blog. I remembered enough about how Mother made it to know that was the one.

So I was happy to find this sandwich recipe on her blog. A sandwich isn't exactly cooking, is it? That meets my needs. But a sandwich can make a good hearty supper, which met Daddy-O's need.

For once, I made a recipe exactly like it was written, except I cut it in half. And I used a little less butter. (Well, I guess I didn't follow it exactly, did I?) I'm only feeding two of us. I even found the Dale's marinade at the store. The verdict? Daddy-O said, "This is good." Took another bite, "This is REALLY good." I thought it was good, too. But for my taste it was a little salty. I used the larger amount in the recipe. So I might back off the marinade a bit another time. But rest assured, there will be another time.


1 lb. deli roast beef, sliced for sandwiches
1 to 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 stick butter (I used less)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons Dale's Sauce (or soy sauce or a little Worcestershire)
soft deli rolls

Cut roast beef into pieces. (I cut the stack of slices into squares.) Melt butter. Add 1-2 tablespoons sauce, according to taste. Add onions and peppers and saute until tender. Add roast beef and additional sauce. Continue cooking until roast beef is heated through. Remove from heat and sprinkle cheese over the top. Let sit until melted. (I put a lid on at this point to help it melt.) Serve on sandwich rolls.

Makes about 5 sandwiches

If you've never heard of Dale's Sauce (I hadn't) the ingredients on listed on the label say it contains mostly soy sauce with some corn syrup and onion, garlic, ginger and paprika, along some other ingredients. So the main flavor is the soy sauce. I don't think you need to worry if you can't find it. Use one of the substitutes listed—soy sauce or Worcestershire. You'll be fine.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Must Keep Knitting

I am ready to put this project out of it's misery. It's actually down to the last ten rows—but that's still over 4,000 stitches to go! Ugh. And then there are over 400 stitches to bind off at the end. So. Many. Stitches.

Let me back up a bit. I started this project in early summer as part of a KAL—that's "knit-a-long" for you non-knitters. That's when a group of folks all knit the same pattern during a specified time period.

In this case, it was a group on Ravelry (a social media site for knitters/crocheters) so the knitters were scattered across the globe. It's fun to chat with other knitters who are working on the same shawl. We can help each other solve problems. Cheer each other on. Admire each others finished project. But I didn't finish by the deadline.

Now I knew when I started that I would not finish on time. I had the little ones here during the summer, remember? But I had met the designer at the Georgia knitting retreat in the spring and I really wanted to participate. So I started amid the chaos here, knitting slowly in fits and starts. I thought I wouldn't be too far behind finishing.

I figured when the dust settled I would zip through the rest. Well, that hasn't happened. My upper case KAL (knit along) has become a lower case "kal" that stands for knit alone.

Maybe it was because I was tired, but I've made too many mistakes. Mistakes that needed to be undone. And redone. Then more mistakes. I am near the end now, but I am having to make myself push through to the end. Thank goodness, the end is the easiest part.

I find myself not knitting now because I need to unload the dishwasher or fold laundry or vacuum cobwebs from behind the blinds. Don't the lampshades need dusting? Hmmm, the kitchen trash can needs to be washed.

But I will make myself keep going. I will get to the end to the end. Fingers crossed that after thousands and thousands of stitches that feel like thousands and thousands of hours (it really isn't--most people finished in less than a month) that I will LOVE this shawl. Time will tell.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Okra Overload

The okra just keeps coming. The grass in our yard, the hay in the fields, our shrubbery, our flowers—all burned up. No rain here. But the okra? Daddy-O cuts it nearly every day. He was away yesterday for most of the day working to get the show barn ready for the livestock show that happens this weekend.

I thought it might be a good time to try a recipe that I had tucked away several weeks ago. I had everything here to make it. There are still tomatoes in our garden, too.

Interesting story...our church has a vegetable garden. Yes, our church that sits right on Main Street. Some members tend it and the produce grown goes to the food pantry so that those needing food assistance can have fresh vegetables. A friend told me last week that they were having trouble giving the tomatoes away. The tops had split on many of them and the people didn't want them. I suppose they don't look like the sturdy tomatoes from the grocery store—the ones that have been shipped across the country.

Well, weather does things to tomatoes. Too much water. Not enough water. Excessive heat. And sometimes they will split around the stem. Like the one I used in this recipe. It was a large tomato that had split at the top. I lopped off the top and went right on cooking. We can't fault people who don't know that's all you need to do.  But I'm not sure how we educate them.


3 to 4 cups fresh okra, sliced
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt to taste
few grinds of fresh black pepper

Heat oil in heavy skillet. Add chopped onion and saute until onion is almost translucent and soft. Add garlic and saute a few minutes more.
Add okra and tomato and saute until okra is tender, yet firm, with a little color.
Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over rice, quinoa, or enjoy it all by itself.

I did have this by itself for lunch. If Daddy-O had been here, this would have been a side dish to something. I don't think I could pass this single dish off as "lunch" to him. As I ate it, I kept thinking of all the things I could add. Fresh corn, black beans, maybe a little cheese sprinkled over the top. I would love it over rice.

I'll be honest. I will forever like okra fried best. (Home fried is better than the restaurant kind.) Roasted okra is a close second and much easier to make. But we have so much okra, I'm trying other recipes, too. This is good. I ate over half of it for lunch. I would put this recipe in the the "like it" category instead of "love it."  I have made stewed okra and tomatoes before. This is similar but not as soupy or as spicy. I usually put a bay leaf in my stewed okra.

I'll keep this recipe for another summer when we are in okra overload. But the next batch will be roasted again. Maybe before the harvest ends, I'll even fry one more pan full. Daddy-O can only hope.

UPDATE: We had rain last night. Over an inch! Still need much more, but we are thankful for this amount.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Looking Back At The Weekend


We only spent twenty-four hours at the lake.

It was enough time to rest, to recharge our batteries.

This was the only "work" that took place.

But the fish were all smarter than the cooters.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cooking Like Betty

I grew up before there was a ready-made version of a whole lot of things. Even the very simple things. But as the food industry grew and grew, they trained us to think that we can't make many of the things that we now purchase in a box, a bag, or a bottle. Canned milk was our convenience food!

I am a fan of Hidden Valley Coleslaw Dressing. But sometimes I can't find it at the grocery store. Some stores sell it; others don't. I usually keep some on hand. When I looked for my bottle of coleslaw dressing and didn't find any this time, I knew I would have to make my own. The rest of my supper was already in the works and I was not going back to the store. In years gone by, I made it myself without a recipe, with varying results. So in hopes of a better dressing, I pulled out one of my most favorite cookbooks.

Long before there was a food network—my goodness, it was long, long before cable TV—there were cooking shows on local channels. Betty Feezor was on TV for years with a popular cooking and homemaking show. I credit part of my cooking skills to watching her show as I was growing up. (Then the airwaves must have shifted and we no longer could get local television from Charlotte.)

Looking through this cookbook is like a trip back to another time. It's funny how recipes go out of style. I trust Betty's recipes to be good, but there are some that just belong to another era. Molded jello salads. Rum Baba. Several recipes with cut-up hot dogs. Time marches on, even in the kitchen.

I found a cabbage slaw recipe in her book. But as usual, I didn't have quite the right ingredients to make it like Betty. Here is my re-do. Some substitutions. And an addition of chopped pickles, which we like. Daddy-O gave it a thumbs up. We had it on pulled pork sandwiches. You can find the slow cooker pork recipe here.


1 (16-oz) bag of coleslaw mix
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon instant minced onion
a little freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup salad cubes or chopped sweet pickles

Put slaw mix into a large bowl. (I like to pick out any huge pieces from bought cole slaw mix. Or, use a chopper to cut up those pieces.)

Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour dressing over slaw mix and toss to combine. (Or, do what I did and dump it all together and stir.)  Refrigerate until ready to serve. It's better if made a few hours ahead of time.

I'm not promising to give up the convenience of a bottled dressing—one that is very good. But this is a good recipe to keep handy for days that I want it homemade.

Just for fun, I googled "Betty Feezor" and found some YouTube clips of The Betty Feezor Show. If you have a spare minute, you might enjoy looking. Oh, how times have changed!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Come Again Another Day

Mother Nature has teased us one more time. Earlier this week, just before dark we saw these low hanging clouds that held the promise of rain. But once again, it passed us by. We had a few drops but not enough to help our drought.

We watch the news and see that other parts of the country are having too much rain. Floods. Drought. Does anyone live where there is the right amount of rain?

Remember the rhyme, "Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day?" Well, it IS that "another day." We need rain.

The bottom fell out just as I was leaving a meeting at church last night. It was a novel feeling—getting wet as I ran to my car. Less than two blocks from the parking lot, though, the rain had nearly stopped. The road leading to the farm was dry for miles. Still no rain here at home. But at least I've seen some!

And to keep this from being a totally bleak post, let's talk food. Okra grows even in a drought! Here is an update on the roasted okra recipe.

I didn't change the cooking directions at all, but I decided that cutting it my usual way made it easier to stir a few times during the cooking time. The split pods had to be turn over one at a time. I've done it this way twice now and unless I want the split pods for a fancier presentation, I think this is how I'll do it from now on.

1 pound fresh okra
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I didn't measure, just poured a little)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper (or *House Seasoning)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Discard any hard pods. Cut off tops and tips of okra. Slice the okra into good size pieces into a bowl. Pour oil over okra and toss to coat. (I used my hands to toss it, making sure the okra was evenly coated with oil.) Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 10 minutes. Stir and roast 10 minutes. If needed, stir and roast 5 minutes more to get a good brown color.

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Keeping It Simple

Just because you don't feel like cooking doesn't mean you don't have to cook. There are nights when you need a super easy dish. Last night was one of those. Daddy-O had a third helping of this casserole, so it passed the taste test. It isn't fancy. It isn't made from all fresh foods. But last night it was just fine.

If I lived where Jessica lives, I would have made a phone call and in thirty minutes or so, supper would arrive at the door. It might be Thai or Indian or barbecue. Nearly anything kind of food you can think of can be delivered if you live in the city.

But we live in the country. No delivery of any kind. Take out is limited to pizza or a sub sandwhich or a fast food burger. And that requires about 25 minutes of driving to get it and bring it home.

So last night I used an "emergency" recipe. It is mostly canned things. I don't do that often, but last tonight I was happy to have these cans on the shelf and to have this recipe tucked away. You open the cans, mix and bake.

You might need this kind of recipe one night, too. Keep the appropriate cans on your shelf and you'll have supper in the oven in minutes.


2 cups ziti
1 (12-oz) can chunk chicken
2 cups shredded Munster or Monterey Jack cheese (think any kind would be fine)
1 (10-oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 soup can water or milk
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook ziti according to package directions. Drain. In a large bowl, mix soup and water. Stir in pasta and all ingredients except Parmesan. Mix well and spoon into a 9-in square dish. Sprinkle Parmesan over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let stand a few minutes so pasta can absorb some of the sauce.

Yes. Yes, I would.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Happy Birthday, Little Sister


Our granddaughters now live so much closer to us. Still in a different state, but only a few hours away now instead of a two day drive. That meant I could go down to help with first-day-of-school things last week. It was so much easier for Mommy to do what was needed without getting the two little ones in and out of the car over and over. Big Sister is now in high school. Hard to believe.

And then there was a birthday to celebrate. Little Sister turned 5! Big Sister suggested she needed a birthday crown for her part. Little Sister said she had a better idea—her fireman's hat! Maybe it was because there were so many candles! What was Baby Girl doing during the party? She got a tiny taste of ice cream and loved playing with the gift bags! It was fun family time.

Daddy-O joined us for a birthday weekend. And her Aunt Jecca came for the party.  My daughters now live about 30 miles apart. How wonderful it was for all of us to be together. Before the move, that only happened at Christmas and maybe Fourth of July.

 Happy birthday, Little Sister!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Birthday Bunny

I DID do several loads of laundry. I DID clean out the refrigerator. I DID cook chicken to make chicken salad. But the rest of the day, I played. I made clothes for the cutest little bunny that will soon belong to Little Sister. I put the pencil in the top photo so that you can see how small the bunny is. The bunny came wearing a little pair of pants. Plus, it had the most adorable tin suitcase—which was empty.

Well, a suitcase needs something in it. So I made a tiny dress for the bunny. I studied pattern making in college. I never thought way back then that I would use that knowledge for bunny clothes! I used hand rolled hems to finish all the edges. Another skill I learn back in the dark ages. I was a little surprised I remembered how to do that. But it was like riding a bicycle—it came back quickly.

I knit more than I sew now, so I knitted a tiny hat and a tiny shawl. It was nearly 100 degrees here, but when it cools off, this bunny will be properly dressed.

There was still a little room in the suitcase, so I made a scarf to match the hat. All of these things were so much fun. No patterns to follow. Just using leftovers from other projects and making things up as I went along. I've been watching Goodnight Gram's Blog for weeks, following along as she is knitting so many doll clothes for a charity project. She inspired me to try a few for tiny bunny.

And then I thought, "What would make this playable?" I asked my Instagram friends for suggestions. All of them were good, but I needed to make something from things here in the house. This was to be a one-day project. My friend Betsy suggested a blanket and pillow. I only had three fabric scraps here at home (I don't sew much any more) but one was a quilt print. Perfect! Because it was so small I just sewed it all by hand. That was a fun change from machine sewing. And it seemed authentic for this tiny country bunny.

Little Sister will be five years old this weekend. This was finished just in time to take to her party. I know Little Sister doesn't read this blog, so it's okay to give you an early peek at the birthday gift. I don't know how much she will enjoy playing with this (you NEVER know with kids) but I had a terrific time today spending my time with the tiny bunny.

My day was also a reminder that my eyes don't see these tiny needles as well anymore. I had to fish out the needle threader. Back in the day, I never needed one. My fingers aren't quite a nimble as they once were. But back when my eyes and fingers worked better, I doubt I would have had a whole day to devote to bunny clothes! Life requires a sense of humor, doesn't it?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Cold Supper For Hot Weather

It's August. It's hot. It's humid. I am not craving hot meals. This is a wonderful cold supper. Make it ahead so it will have time to chill. When I went down to Mommy's new house last week to help paint, she had this salad (left from her supper the night before) for a quick lunch the day I got there. She said that all of her family loved it. I made it several times years ago and we loved it. Then the recipe moved out of my rotation. We had kind of forgotten about it. It is time for me to bring it back. Thanks, Mommy, for the reminder.


1/4 cup mayonnaise
oregano to taste
16-oz spaghetti, cooked, drained, hot (whole wheat pasta is nice here)
8-oz feta cheese, crumbled (a 6-oz pkg is okay, too)
6 spring onions, chopped (or green onions)
10-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced or large dice
16-oz shrimp, cooked & peeled
1 cup light Italian dressing

Combine the mayonnaise and oregano in a large bowl and mix well.
Add hot cooked spaghetti and toss to coat.
Add the feta cheese, spring onions, tomatoes and shrimp and mix well.
Pour the salad dressing over the shrimp/pasta mixture and mix well.
Chill, covered, for 6 hours
Serve cold.

Mommy used frozen salad size shrimp for this and that was a great choice. I have used large shrimp. Buy whatever is on sale. Follow the directions on the bag for proper thawing. Or, if you're in a hurry, these directions from my cousin Audrey work well, too. To thaw: bring a pot of water (about 2-qt) to boil. Add frozen shrimp. When water returns to boil, drain and cover shrimp with ice cubes to cool. We've all done this with good results, too.

As I'm writing this, I'm thinking this would be awfully good to take to someone. Right now there seem to be plenty of folks who could use a meal. This makes a generous amount of salad, so one recipe could be divided---supper for friends and supper for us. Perfect.

For the record, Big Sister and I did a good job in her room. She and I painted and she learned lots of "how-tos" as we worked. I told her I'm trying to work myself out of a job!