Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Out of Order--Needs Repairs--Prescription Lots of Sunshine

In the spring I like simple meals. It's a good thing because I am in serious need of downsizing. There is a surplus in my economy.

However this salad was accompanied by spaghetti, I am not that low calorie YET.

The redbud tree is in bloom. Check out that blue sky isn't it gorgeous!

And so is the crabapple.
They are a glorious riot of color.

In the spring I like to be outside admiring everything. The heat will be upon us soon, and then I will admire in the morning and the evening and from afar.  I am a certified heat wimp.

My weeding messed up my neck and back. I am a hopeless case. At this point it's down right embarrassing. The short end of the story is simple. I have been out of order--needing repair. My chiropractor is getting rich off of me.Blog neglect set in with the stiffness and all that other--let's just forget about it shall we?

I have had great company though.  Mo-mo is a great cat. He is a pretty fella don't you think? I fed this cat for a year and he wouldn't let me touch him. Then I started sneaking up on him while he was eating and petted him a little. After awhile he stopped being so skiddish and actually started meowing for me to come out and feed him. We had a lot of nice conversations. Then one day a couple of months ago he just walked into the house and claimed it. Now he sleeps on my bed. Recently he got hurt and had an infected leg. I soaked it with epsom salt compresses all night. He recovered and now we are bonded big time. He is my cat. He is a great talker. I love it when cats talk. They are really cute. The only thing he does that bugs me is roll in the dirt. This guy loves a good dry dirt bath, or sawdust, or anything else he can get all over himself. He does not appreciate me washing him down with a damp cloth either; but we have new carpet!

The cats cruise around on our street. It's blooming and really looks pretty right now. They don't go far. We keep an eye out for them and they come in a couple of times a day to nibble and maintain their royal fatness. That's something I can totally relate too.

And while we are all out doors we work on little areas of the garden. Transplanting a plant here or there, weeding a little, and thinking of new ways to spread out what has reproduced or grown to large for a spot.
On the far left of this corner I had a Lantana plant. It became an enormous bush covering the whole area. I had the hunny dig it out and take it to the back fence. I moved some echinachea to the back and a little bit of dwarf canna's I think that will look pretty good will see.
I have planted seed for Heavenly Blue morning glories in several areas  where I have large trellises. I like them to grow up with the Joesph's Coat climbing roses. I love companion planting. Pretty soon my Jackmani clematis will be blooming with the American rose a dark purple and bright salmon combination. I have been in the think tank looking at my other beds. My narcissus is over taking one of them, time to dig up and divide. I'll let you know if you want some when I do it. Spring is here and for the next 2 months I will be out more than in, but I'll be by to visit you; and you'll be by to see me where you never do know what your going to get. You might get some bulbs!

And a little pearl of wisdom for you; Three can keep a secret if two are dead.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pearls of Wisdom--Fixed and ready to read.

Dear Lord,
So far today I am doing alright.
I have not gossiped
lost my temper
been greedy
or self indulgent.
I have not whined or complained.
I have not eaten any chocolate. I have charged nothing on my credit card.

But I will be getting out of bed in a minute,
and I think I will really need your help then.

 (Author unknown.) 
sorry for the red X

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Cleaning--In and Out.

Spring is just inspirational.

This plus this =this.

That's the outside,

and this, is the inside. The last big job.

You can see for yourself that there are simply no words.

The present.

                                                                                The past.

That's all for now.  I'm going back to the hospital.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Promises Are Giving Joy

Today is just gorgeous. Simply spectacular. Days like today are for letting your heart sing praises.

I had to go out and bend over, to pull weeds, and to snap some photos for you. Hopefully no one was looking while I was bending over.  Thank God there is no one hunting out here.
Mistakes can happen you know.

Everyone feels like going outside and doing something of interest.

The carpenter is busy building.

I even persuaded someone to help me tackle weeding.
We will be weeding steadily for the next few weeks. Cold and snow does not stop weeds. I am trying to think of ways to fix up my two big flower beds with annuals. Instead of flats of flowers I am going to use seeds. Economizing is necessary in every area of the home, even out here. I won't get the instant saitisfaction of putting out plants, but the seeds will sprout and that will be fun. It is also fun to see that is coming up and propagating with seeds is fairly easy.

Today even the flowering weeds look cute. I'm going to pull them but they look pretty. It has REALLY been a long cold winter!

The roses are sprouting buds of promise. The first flush will be very soon.

My favorite willow tree is leafing out so sweetly. I love this tree. Sometimes I think this tree knows it is loved. My husband bought him for my birthday several years ago and I named him Harry.  He was the cutest little thing with a bushy top that looked like a young ENT with wild hair. It was love at first sight. Harry is a good sized mature tree now.

Everywhere I looked today I saw buds and beauty.

What was covered in snow just a few weeks ago. The redbud tree will be in full bloom very soon. I have a lot of cleaning up to do out here. The extreme cold killed quite a few plants. We usually don't have winters this cold, and there are some casualties. I am hoping that the mosquito population suffers from the cold!
I have two apricot trees that have never born any fruit and they are five years old. If we don't have another cold snap that would hurt the buds, this may be the year! It surely looks promising!  Has spring come to see you?

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us REJOICE and be GLAD in it!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Requested Recipes; If You Can Call Them That!

Baking Bread can be easy. I like easy, as in the path of least resistance.  When I first tried baking whole grain breads I made bricks and quit. Years later some good friends of ours showed us this amazing tool- a BOSCH mixer.

I don't sell them, and I don't make anything recommending them. People say they are expensive. They are an investment. Mine is 20 years old. With the prices of I phones, I pods, and flat screen TV's that people buy every day; these really aren't expensive. The decision is; do you want one?  If you really want to bake bread on a regular basis, you do.

These mixers hold 14 to 16 cups of flour. I make 4 loaves at a time. All my recipes are in large quantity for the Bosch.  Ya'll are brave wanting my recipes because I tweak things and make things up.  My recipes are tested in my kitchen- end of story, but I think they are good. The other item to get is a home mill, mine is a Kitchenetics it's also old. I mill flour out on the carport. I don't care if it sounds like an airplane or makes a mess because I am outside. Most of the time the Hunny does the milling which is even better! The freshly ground wheat will be warm and it helps the bread to rise. These loaves of bread are soft and tender they do not feel heavy. Most people cannot believe that they are 100% whole grains.

One more thing about the mixer, it is a mixer! It comes with other attachments, you can use it for everything any mixer does. I just use mine for bread. I like my little hand held mixer for small jobs. A lot of people buy table top Kitchen Aid mixers but they can not handle this volume. If you want to try it in one of those, cut the recipes in half. Let me know if you do that and if it works well. I'd like to know.

Whole Wheat Bread
5 1/2 or 6 cups of filtered pure water room temperature is fine
3 tbs instant dry yeast ( do not use rapid rise)
2 or 3 tbs sea salt (set this aside in a place you won't forget it)
1/2 c. good oil I use extra light olive or coconut.
1/2 c. honey.  Little tip: If you add oil first, and use the same cup the honey slides right out.

Mix everything in the mixer except salt. Avoid using metal utensils with your yeast it sticks.
While this is "proofing" or feeding and becoming active, mill your flour. I make a heaping large mixer bowl full. I use about 14 cups of flour in every batch. I like Praire Gold Wheat, which is lighter and softer or Red Winter Wheat a very hearty flavor.  Children like the light wheat better. I also buy unbleached white high protein flour. I purchase all my grains in a co-op once or twice a year. They come from Montana and are excellent. When I shop for grain it's about 300 pounds. That is a big shop!

Back to the mixer.  The lid is in 2 sections. There is a small top that can be removed. I turn my mixer on low and add the flour a cup at a time until I have added 6 cups. At this point I let the blended  dough sponge. All that means, is that I stop and wait about 20 minutes and let it bubble. Sponging takes the place of a second rise. With a Bosch you do not have to let your dough rise at all-but I do because I think the bread turns out much better.
After the rest, the dough will have puffed up and doubled in your mixer. Turn it back on low and add the salt. If you forget the salt you'll never forget again. Saltless bread is just lousy.
If you do get done and you have forgotten the salt save that dough for pizza crust. You can add more olive oil when you roll it out, and sprinkle it with salt to save it.
At this point you just finish adding the flour.  I mostly leave my mixer on the entire time with the small lid off. At about 14 cups of flour the dough will pull cleanly from the sides of the bowl. That is perfect. Put the lid on now and let the mixer run for 10 minutes. Oil a very large bowl and place the mixed dough in it. Rub oil onto saran wrap and use it to cover the bowl. The oiled wrap prevents a crust from forming while it is resting.  Set it aside until it has doubled. The dough can actually be divided up and baked right now but letting it rest and rise develops the dough and makes a richer flavor. I think the bread has a better crumb too. This is just what I have learned from my experiences with baking over the years.
You can check in just about any good cook book for instructions on shaping a loaf. you can make rolls, or braids, or round loaves, anything you want to try. This is the fun part!

Something else that I have incorporated into my bread making is that I handle my dough gently. I push it down and handle it softly. It doesn't need to be socked and punched unless you have frustrations to let off. I pinch my seams on the bottom and just sort of shape it into a loaf.  You can do a lot with the dough. You can make pizza crust, you can add savory herbs, cinnamon,  or cheese or whatever you like! If you do want flavored bread add these things into the sponge early in the process.

When you have finished having a good time, and are ready, bake at 350 for about an hour. If you like a dark brown top beat an egg and add a bit of water to it. Apply to your loaves with a pastry brush before baking. That is a simple egg wash and it does add a dark pretty color. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I would use and egg wash on a braid. Also an egg wash will hold anything you want to sprinkle on top like sesame seeds.

 Rap the top of the browned bread when it smells done, it should be nicely firm and give a hollow sound. I have stainless steel pans that are well seasoned. I spray them with PAM. I rarely use soap on them. They have a nice oil patina from use and my bread never sticks.

Buttermilk Egg Bread.
For the cinnamon rolls, and for white bread or dinner rolls I make this dough. This is one I made up. My friend brought me a loaf of bread like this when I came home from the hospital, she had made up her recipe. I adapted it and altered it for the mixer.

4 c. fresh warmed buttermilk or room temp but not ice cold.
2 c. filtered water
3 large brown eggs.
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. honey.
3 tbs dry yeast.

Start in the mixer. Begin adding  unbleached white bread flour.  King Arthur makes a good bread flour and so does Hodgens Mill. After 6 cups let rest. The drill is exactly the same. Add your salt and the rest of the flour until the dough turns loose. For this dough I do not add flour for the completely clean sides. It is a stickier dough, and it is soft so when it starts to pull away that is good enough. Use well oiled hands to handle it and get it out of the bowl. Same process of letting it rest. It is a very soft dough.

To make these take 1/4 of your batch of dough and put it on a work surface. I have a silicon mat. Use a well seasoned rolling pin to roll out in a thin rectangle.

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a small bowl, add 1/3 c. sugar and 1/3 cup siagon ground cinnamon. Mix. Spread this evenly on your rolled out dough. Add nuts if you want to.
Roll it lengthwise carefully pressing as you go. There is a bit of a little lift that I do to keep the mix in place and not just roll it all out. So it's pick up the side, gently lift it a little and then tuck and press. I hope this is making sense! When you are finished you will have a long log of cinnamon rolls. Carefully slice them 1 inch thick, and place in a sprayed large baking dish. I put 16 in a pan. Bake at 350 about 20 to 25 mins. Be careful not to over bake. The NOSE KNOWS!

Frost with buttercream when almost cool. They can still be just slightly warm.
1/2 stick butter softened
1 box powdered sugar
generous  amt of real vanilla
milk to right consistency probably about a 1/4 c. I don't measure I just add a little while mixing until it is right.
For orange flavor use orange juice instead of milk, you can use some orange zest or dried peel too for a really elegant orange cinnamon roll.

If you put canned frosting on these I will shoot you in the foot!  Next thing is to fix a pot of good french roast coffee and sit down and enjoy!

The next request was about pre baking pie shells.

To prebake a pie shell dust the crust with flour on both sides. Wipe off the excess. Put it in the pie plate and prick with a fork like CRAZY! Prick the sides and the bottom all over, make designs, just have yourself a party pricking.

If you have pricked it enough it will stay put like this one did. If not it will be a heap in the bottom of the pan.

And finally, the last request was for the casserole.

To make the broccoli cheese rice casserole. I think I use about 3 c. of cooked brown or white rice. I like brown. The first step is to saute a chopped onion and about 4 stalks of chopped celery in some butter or olive oil.  I use butter. Saute it until done. Add to the rice that is already in your big bowl. Add a nice big quantity of cooked broccoli and qualiflower. Add one can of cream of mushroom soup. Salt, pepper, and season to taste. What do you like? Put it in.

If you are a purist you can make a white sauce from scratch, instead of the soup. The cream of mushroom soup is good in this, and it is easy. Then I use a half of a brick of grated sharp cheader cheese, saving some for the top. If you don't like that kind of cheese use whatever you do like.  Mix with a big wooden sppoon, if it's dry add a little milk or sour cream, whatever you like, even broth if you have that. It should be just moistly blended and stay together. Spread into a casserole and cover with the rest of your grated cheese. Bake at 350 for about an hour until golden brown and bubbly. You can do a lot with this. You can switch up the veggies, any veggies are good. You can add chopped chicken or green  minced chilies. Whatever you can think of.

And as Julia would say "Bon Appetit!"

If you'd like to make a Noodle Kugal http://noblepig.com/2008/12/16/unsexy-jewish-food.aspx I just knew she would know how! After reading how it's made, I gained 5 more pounds.

The sun is shining the trees are blooming it's SPRING! Time to get outside!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Treats Treats Treats!

My girlfriend called yesterday. She asked me if I liked Jewish Mama cookin? Do women eat chocolate? Is too tall Jones too tall? (like the commercial- you know) I answered her. YEAH I love any kind of good home cooking!

Once a year the Jewish temple here in town has a bazaar.

This is not from a bakery. Isn't it gorgeous?
We didn't buy a slice of this one because they pulled it out AFTER we had already purchased as many different slices of cake and goodies as we could carry!

We bought desert first and then went to the lunch line. You can do that when you are and adult!

We both had the sampler plate.

#1 Taster's Plate= Matzo ball chicken  soup, Stuffed Cabbage, Roast Brisket, Noodle Kugal, Carrot Tzimmes, Potato Kinish, and a Cheese Blintz.

Yum, it was all so good. The carrots were seasoned with orange and prunes. If anybody knows how to make that Noodle Kugal--I HAVE TO KNOW!!

We were so full we couldn't even eat the big boxes of dessert that my sweet friend bought.
I told her to have faith, we could walk around the bazaar and lunch would shake down into our legs and then we could eat some more. Sometimes you just gotta eat all you can eat.

Items to bid on and the 10 commandments in the background.

A cute old lady. I love old ladies.
She was worrying about getting in the way of my picture and I told her to just smile. So she did!

This was a painting you could bid on. It was a silent auction. They also raffled off a gorgeous quilt. My phone did not ring.

We had a great time. Today it was back to work. I had bread to bake.

And in my dreams one of these.....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It Sure Smells Good Over Here.

The kitchen is calling to me. Can you hear it? I hear it,loudly it's saying-- pies. Food is love! Don't argue with me.  A friend of mine used to tell me that food is not love. I am still not convinced.

My hunny  is outside working on a chest of drawers for my custom closet. My hunny loves sweet potato pie. I love my hunny. I am gonna cook for him. That is pure logical love.

 Kayla always takes angles that make me look like a total cow.
so why put it in the post? Why I say? No, I did not post a picture where I look like a cow. Is beef or pork on the menu tonight?

Caution pie in progress.

Actually no it is not. Yesterday, I fixed a large pot of brown rice, a large amount of brocolli and cauliflower, and 3 humungous sweet potatoes.  Large quantities on the first day make the second day an easy peasy cook off. This family loves brocolli cheese rice casserole. That's it in the oven getting bubbly. The crust is pre baking for the sweet potato pie.
Yesterday, I peeled and mashed up all the sweet potatoes and saved 3 cups for the pies today.

I used to be totally sold on pumpkin pie but not anymore. I have been converted!  Maybe it's using locally grown food that makes them so tasty I'm not sure; but they are just plain delicious.

My recipe for sweet tater pie is;
3 cups baked mashed sweet taters do not substitute canned. This is the most important step. Fresh sweet potatoes are a must!!
4 large eggs beat them in one at a time and fluff it up good. Then just add the rest of the list and mix.
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 stick softened butter--use real butter--life is just so much better with butter!
1  12oz. can evap milk OR cream. Sometimes when my friends bring me cream from their Jersey cow I use it. Is that why I look like a Jersey cow?
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice---oooooooh this makes the difference between pumkin and sweet tater, this makes the pie soooooo goood. It'll make you slap your mama.
1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract.
1 tsp siagon cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt.
Beat it up.

Pre bake your crusts at 400 for 10-15 mins, then add the filling. I bake my pies at 375 ( but I go ahead and stick them in at 400 and let the oven change temps while they are baking) -until they are nicely puffed and the aroma fills the kitchen. The NOSE knows! I do not like underbaked custard pies and these are basically custard pies. They will still have a bit of a jiggle in them and that is perfect.

 Then we have this again. Ho hum. You know I used to be such a freak! I had the dishes that you wash by hand and the dishes you put in the dishwasher. Now, well, you know at this stage in life I take the easy road. If it ain't wood, or too big and it fits in the dishwasher......

Yep, you guessed it.

It goes in the dishwasher.  Why the heck not?
Life is too short to spend at the sink, after all there is pie to eat!

First dinner and then pie. This looks pretty tasty don't you think?  So what's cookin at your house? Do you throw all your  dishes in the dishwasher and make life easy? If you don't, try it- you'll like it.

The other day I noticed on my dashboard that I have over 400 posts. That is a plum lotta posts. I am thinking that on my 500th post I will have a give- a - way. I'm thinking about what it should be. Ya'll have any ideas of something you'd like to get for nothing win?
Yeah, I know--I love you too.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Something To EAT!

It was a good day. I did my hair. This is not the best picture but I keep forgetting that Kayla's computer does not rotate pictures.
My camera is at a friends house, where I forgot it.

My camera has pictures of a present from Jojo. She is so sweet.
It also has pictures of my friends very cute chubba baby boy.

There was an e mail in my box today that I won a Beatrice Potter print from "My Romantic Home's" give away.

And after all that great news I decided to bleach my teeth too. Maybe after 10 times I'll smile bigger. The problem with drinking coffee, tea, and red wine is that it stays with ya, all over your teeth.
and then it hit me. BAKE something! Bake something delicious. I was inspired really these are the best cinnamon rolls I have ever made.

It took all my will power not to eat the entire pan. So I had 2 big ones.  NO not at the same time. One warm out of the oven and one after dinner.

Dinner was apricot chicken, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and brocolli.

and some of this. Buttermilk egg bread. Buttermilk bread dough makes for some killer, make you slap your mama cinnamon rolls--yes sir reeeee bob!

Did I say cinnamon rolls? With real butter? With Siagon cinnamon, orange peel, sugar, and buttercream frosting with real vanilla in it? There I go repeating myself again.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Time for A Heart To Heart

This is not a usual state of affairs for me. I am weird like that. I don't like to leave dishes in the sink. My idea of doing the dishes means washing them,  then scouring the sink, and sweeping the floor. My Mom raised me like that. I'm so stinkin OCD about it that I would wash your dishes and sweep your floor too.   I am finding myself getting lazier as time goes by. Since I have been off of work it seems I am accomplishing less and less.                
Usually a room with this kind of mess going on would literally be driving me nuts. I am however quite content at the moment to just close the door. A lot of this stuff cannot be put away yet because there is no place to put it.  I did go through some boxes looking for stuff.

I found this. Talk about a blast from the past!!

Check out the hair do's, it was the nineties but 80's hair was still a big thing. I was still cute back then sort of and my grand babes--well two at once and lovin every minute of them.
Can you pick me out? ( Note the huge hint)

My class photo. Wow. You know I remember thinking that I had really learned a lot at school. Then I went to work--yeah reality shock.  Being a nurse has been the hardest but most rewarding work I have ever done. I have had a lot of physical challenges to overcome along the way. Times when I couldn't work because of my own health. But when I think about it; seems like the happiest times are when I am working hard. I must get a lot of self gratification from work. The crazy thing is when I am working I am always bitching complaining about how tired I am, and my aching back.

It's one of those times when I am not working again. Some people are just never satisfied. I am getting plenty of rest now! So what's up? I'm getting less and less acomplished.  Is it a loss of momentum? If you are a full time home maker, how do you stay energetic? What keeps us tackling the tasks at hand? How do we keep going every day when no one really cares if the dishes sit in the sink? If I don't do laundry my husband does it. Really, he is an amazing guy. My clothes don't get sorted out like I like but he has only wrecked a few items. An excuse to buy new,  not a bad price for not having to do the wash. 

Here is the deal, the rubber hitting the road part.

I am really getting bored. For the first time in my life I haven't a clue what to do next. I am in the middle of the disability application process-probably a big waste of time. They are going to deny me you know they will. I have to figure out a way to earn a little money from home. The wheels in my head are turning. How do people make money with their blogs? I like to blog, I wonder if I could make money blogging? I wonder if it would spoil my love of blogging.  Shoot, I wouldn't know where to begin.

For today the procrastination will continue, I'm thinking about this yarn and I closed the laundry room door.

The dishes will wait a bit longer...