Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Peek At Camp Mimi

It's only day 2 of Camp Mimi. And Mimi is tired! We'll only give you a peek at what is going on here. And next week, we'll show you more. How spectacularly special it is to have only one grandchild for a week. She has totally embraced "cabin clean up" but "rest time" is not as much fun.

Come back next week to see more about Camp Mimi.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The In Between Days

Blueberry Buckle

Our little people headed home a couple of days ago. Right now our house is quiet and the floors are toy-free. (Did I tell you about the single black Lego on our dark rug that I "found" early one morning?) In this house with no grandchildren, we can finish a cup of coffee while it's hot. We can read the newspaper and watch the morning news shows (which is all pretty depressing) and eat a meal without hopping up a dozen times. But we are missing the early morning snuggles and the bedtime stories and all the hugs in between.

I miss getting fashion advice from the two-year-old, who told me I needed higher heels when I dressed for church on Sunday. I miss hearing Little Sister telling Daddy-O, "Sometimes we make bad decisions, but people love us anyway" after he did something that she is not allowed to do. So hard not to laugh!

While this house is empty for a few days, I'm making plans for "Camp Mimi" next week. Only one little one this time. Little Sister is coming to spend a week at the farm, by herself, to enjoy activities planned just for her. I have a bit of a plan, but we will have it all figured out by the time "camp" begins. 

So in these days between visits, I'm catching up on regular things here, like laundry, cleaning, reading (something beside Berenstain Bears) and knitting. Just started a new shawl from Curious Handmade. Right now it's at the "doesn't look like much" stage. But I've seen photos of other knitters' finished shawls and they are lovely. Right now the temps are staying around 100 degrees here. No need for any kind of wrap or shawl. But cooler temperatures will come back. I'll be ready. For much of our winter, a shawl will be all the outerwear I'll need.

We are finishing up leftovers from our kid-friendly meals. Maybe the best of the leftovers is the Blueberry Buckle I baked with the very last of the blueberries we picked. This is an old recipe from an old cookbook. My mother gave me a brand new Better Homes & Gardens cookbook when I graduated from college. It is still my go-to cookbook, even though the pages are now yellowed. I have notes jotted all through the book. The penciled-in words beside the Blueberry Buckle recipe say "very good!" Indeed.

You can find the self-rising flour version of this recipe here. It's good either way you do it.


1/2 cup shortening (I used half shortening/half butter this time)
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly cream shortening and 3/4 cup sugar; add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together to blend. Add flour to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. Spread batter in greased 11x7x 1-/1/2 inch pan. Top with berries. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly; sprinkle over berries. Bake 45 minutes. Cut into squares. Serve warm.

School for Big Sister (10th grade) and Little Sister (5K) begins on August 4. After that, there won't be very many visits to the farm. And then I'll go back and look over this blog and remember how much grandparent fun we've had this summer.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mimi And Daddy-O On Duty

Babysitting is going on right now. No time to write a blog. There has been cooking, however, (we do have to eat) so I'll catch up later.

We've been busy. The good kind of busy.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Hot Dog...Get Your Hot Dog!

Hot Dog Chili

Oh, my goodness. I meant to have a photo of the actual hot dogs with chili on them. But once the assembly process started, there was no slowing down for anything. Kids were hungry and we were passing plates out as fast as possible. You will have to imagine every surface in the church kitchen lined with plates with baked beans and chips and a cookie as we put the hot dogs in place. (I know, I know. This meal will not win any nutrition prizes.)

We were in charge of supper for Vacation Bible School one night this week. And as the last kitchen team in place, all of the kid-friendly suppers I could think of were already on the menu. But I make good hot dog chili, so that's what we did.

Feeding hot dogs to a group of children was probably the most labor intensive of the meals because of the condiments—mustard/no mustard, ketchup/no ketchup, only chili/no chili, "Can I have some salt, please?" It was not a one-size fits all kind of supper.

But thirty minutes after they sat at the table, every hot dog was gone. Admittedly, one fell in the floor. One small girl poured sand from the beach-themed centerpiece over hers, but I think the rest were eaten. Or, at least nibbled on. For the tiny kids, I split their hot dogs lengthwise into quarters, and then sliced them, and they ate theirs as finger food, with a half bun on the side.

I made this basic recipe three-times over. It is so quick to make that I did it in three batches, pouring each (when all the pink was gone) into the big pot to simmer. For me, that was easier than cooking a triple amount of meat in one big batch.

You are seeing these photos right—I do not brown the meat before I make chili. Browning it first changes the texture of the chili. It's much coarser/chunkier. We like it this way, when the chili is "smoother" and perfect for spooning over a hot dog.

If you feel like this is too hard to stir together, you can add a little water at the beginning. I don't usually do this. (But I have, and that way works, too.) I do stand right there and stir it continuously for several minutes until the meat juices kick in. That water will cook out as it simmers uncovered.


1 lb. lean ground beef (I use 90% lean)
about 1/2 of a 24-oz. bottle of ketchup
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper to taste

Place everything in a saucepan and mix together. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring continously as the meat on the bottom browns.  The meat will release it's juices as it cooks making it easier to stir. Add a little more ketchup, if you think it needs it. Once all of the meat is no longer red, simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, or longer. Stir every now and then.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

It's Berry Berry Good

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Mostly, now I'm not very fond of it. There are too many political articles from questionable sources. Too many unfiltered comments that are hateful and ugly. Too many advertisements for things I don't plan to buy. Too many ridiculous videos. But mixed in with all of that stuff I zip past, I can also see who had a new baby, who died, and who is moving to a new house. So, I can't give Facebook up completely.

And then there are the Facebook recipes. There are so, so many of those that they only get a glance. But I am happy that this one caught my eye. Could be because I still had nearly a half gallon of fresh berries left from our berry picking morning last week.

I had never heard of Jordan Marsh, but evidently it was a famous department store in Boston back in the day. I grew up in a very small Southern town. The closest thing we had to a department store was Reimer's, which was basically two stores connected by a doorway. Womens' clothing on one side and mens' on the other side. As a teenager I worked weekends across the street at Hall's 5 & 10. Once I started getting a paycheck (I think it was about $7 a week) I bought my own clothes at Reimer's. Thank goodness for lay-away, because one paycheck wasn't enough for a dress.

Anyway, our little store wasn't big enough to serve treats. For that, you walked next door to the corner drugstore for an ice cream cone.  I'm glad Jordan Marshall's was a huge store with a bakery. And I'm glad that this recipe has been passed around for ages since they closed. This one came from a NY Times Facebook post. If you google the recipe, you'll find other variations from other sources. I'm pretty sure they are all good.

Because my muffin pans are approaching antique age, I think they are slightly smaller than the current regular size ones.  (I have an even older one that is a little smaller than these.) This recipe made 18 muffins for me. And they cooked a little faster. Eighteen muffins meant I had plenty to share. So I packed up a half dozen and delivered them to my favorite older (than us) couple. He's 93 and she's 88. They are both on walkers now, but sharp as a tack. We should all age so well! We had the best visit.

So here is the famous recipe. I will certainly make these muffins again. And again. And again.


1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries (washed, drained, picked over)
3 teaspoons sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter and 1-1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. (I just used a whisk to mix the dry ingredients.) Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Crush 1/2 cup of berries with a fork and mix into batter. Fold in remaining whole berries.

Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners, and fill with batter. Sprinkle the 3 teaspoons of sugar over tops of muffins. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. (Check after 25 minutes.)

Remove muffins from tins and cool for at least 30 minutes. Store, uncovered, or the muffins will be too moist the second day.

Because I was baking in the morning, I fixed my favorite summer lunch yesterday—a tomato sandwich and fresh cantaloupe. The tomatoes and cantaloupe were just hours off the vines. This is the ultimate summer meal. In fact, it was so good, that we did a repeat for supper.

And having sandwiches again last night (I could only get away with this on the day the first tomatoes are picked) gave me time to bake a blueberry pie at supper time.  Mommy made one last week at the lake. And I couldn't think of a better way to use the very last of the fresh berries.

I was glad to get to the end of the 2 gallons of berries, but now I'm thinking maybe we should pick just one gallon more. Hmmmm.....

Monday, July 11, 2016

Vacation's Over

Family time.

Early morning fishing.

What a week to be away from television (except for the tiny one that gets only PBS) and newspapers. While we were on vacation, it seems the world fell apart. It has been painful to catch up on what on happening while we were away. But we will continue to focus on the pleasant time we shared with family. We will also make sure we teach these little ones to treat people with respect and kindness.

Porch airport.

Lakeside dining.

For years, I thought "vacation" had to be somewhere at least a few hours away from home. But this year we had a real vacation at our lake house that is only 45 minutes from the farm. We had our entire family at the lake at one time or another as people came and went. And extended family joined us on July 4th for our annual BBQ lunch. Such good memories.

The umbrella that got away.

A visitor on the pier.

We came back to the farm for a couple of days before Mommy and the little girls headed home. Then, after they left for the city, we headed back to the lake house for a couple of days of quiet after the busy times with little ones in residence. It was all good—the busy times and the quiet time. Life is all about balance, isn't it?

A reminder that the littles were here.