Monday, August 22, 2016

It Feels Like Fall

 Leaves are falling from my ash tree. It's always early, but not this early. It is chilly today. I'm not freaking out because the forecast for the rest of the week is hot, screaming hot. Still, this feels like a soup-for-supper day. I love to make goulash but it's usually not moist enough for the hubster. He loves "moist" food. So here's a soup version of goulash that suits his fancy. It looks fantastic, too.

Beef and Tomato Macaroni Soup
Yield: About 5 servings
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped yellow onion (1 small)
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (2 medium)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes or fresh chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh marjoram (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp dried)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups (5.6 oz) dry small elbow pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn (optional)
  • Fresh chopped parsley and finely grated parmesan cheese, for serving
  • Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and saute 3 minutes then add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Pour mixture onto a plate.
  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in pot over medium-high heat, add beef, season with salt and pepper and cook until browned. Drain fat from beef.
  • Return sauteed veggies to pot along with beef broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, Worcestershire, marjoram, thyme, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Add in pasta, cover and reduce heat to medium,. Boil stirring occasionally, until pasta has cooked through, about 15 - 20 minutes. If adding corn, stir in corn during last 3 minutes of cooking.
  • Remove bay leaves, serve warm garnished with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese if desired.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Wedding

My daughter's wedding was last Saturday. We had visiting relatives since last Thursday. It was a perfect wedding, great weather, lots of very good food, dancing, fun music. All the items I made for the tables looked great. My daughter looked stunning and so beautiful. We drove our son's vintage Pontiac Tempest so he could be there.
Here's daughter, Ginger, posing next to the car
She chose a barn setting and the reception was held in a tent. Using red picnic tables, one theme color was set. I made burlap table runners lined with off-white lace. Dozens of crepe paper flowers made of turquoise, red and red and white gingham were spread over the tables. Topped of with some sea glass blue jars leading up to the centerpiece Ball turquoise jar, red lid, firefly lights, red roses and white baby's breath.
You can see a bit of the decor. It was time consuming but fun. So happy how it made the tables look. Food was plentiful and so delicious. Loads of photos to come. Daughter and new SIL are off to the honeymoon. I have grandkids and grand dog named Chewy. He's joined the pack and is doing so well. Being gramma and spoiling grandkids is my best job.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Fun Summer Food

 Where have I been? Helping our daughter get ready for her wedding on July 16.  I'm in charge of table decorations. Have I been busy? I will be so glad for many reasons to have this wedding over and done with. We are having family visit too. It'll be fun to be with all our friends and family and celebrate this happy occasion. I've been decorating Ball blue jars--not the ones you can buy in the stores now, or just in the past, but, the ones made between 1920 and 1930. These blue jars are a result of some special silica found new a lake. Once used up, no more blue jars. They are an aqua blue and we're putting red canning lids on them with the frog insert. They will be the table centerpiece and will contain some red roses and baby's breath. Inside the jar are submersible firefly lights. Quite special. I'll be sure to post pictures from the actual event once we're all done.

Meanwhile, I'm entertaining relatives and wanted to make some fun foods for our BBQ the day after the wedding. What I love almost more than salsa is Pico de Gallo. It's fresh taste and the lime excites my taste buds. Cilantro is a given, lots of cilantro. Raid the garden and don't spare the cilantro.

 Pico de Gallo
6 tomatoes
2 onions
2 green peppers
1-2 jalepenos
2 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 bunch cilantro
Chop all ingredients and combine in one large bowl. Let it chill in the fridge for a few hours allowing the flavors to blend. You can vary some flavors: purple onions instead of the summer sweet onions, or both, more jalapenos, red jalapenos, plum tomatoes are my preference-meatier and more flavorful. And, it occurred to me that my husband's family never got to eat his grandmother's raspberry pie. She was visiting us when we first moved to the Seattle area. I had just picked a flat of raspberries. She watched me prepare them for the freezer and sheepishly asked if I could spare some for a pie.
Gramma V hadn't had a raspberry pie since leaving upper state New York and she was 17 at that time. Living in California, she found the berries too expensive, not fresh and having some weird color. Looking at my berries, her mouth was watering. I mentioned to her I couldn't make a good berry pie as it was always runny. Asking if I had some Minute Tapioca, she said she could fix that problem. I had some in the cupboard, so we made a raspberry pie with tapioca. Her advice: fresh berries only needed 2 tablespoons, frozen berries because they let go more juice, you used 3-4 tablespoons.
The look on Gramma V's face was priceless when she took her first bite. I'll never forget it. I'm going to make sure that the remaining family members while visiting us and using our Northwest fresh berries, will have Gramma V's raspberry pie. It's an awesome dessert worth making.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Why so busy?

Playing catch up, adding new projects, helping new people, wedding coming up--all has hit this lady. I actually tried to do a Row by Row quilt. Asking myself where are you going to find time to do this, I said, "no." Not an easy word for me, but it is necessary. Prioritizing doesn't work in this household. The hubster has his priorities which somehow outrank mine.....holding one's ground becomes tiresome. Has anyone else found this to be true?
 Right now, it is a cool day in the Northwest. A great day for gardening. We won't be having any more cold nights so even tomatoes can be planted and will do well. We are expecting another very hot summer.  According to our weather people, life will become normal next year. This translates to rainy and colder winters, rain throughout spring, summer and fall. Normal. Growing heirloom, large tomatoes may not work next year but we'll have our regulars which like our cooler summers. So my encouragement to fellow Northwest gardeners, plant like crazy and enjoy what you reap.
I am thoroughly enjoying some frozen tomatoes using a new method I tried last summer. Everyday we went to see our son in the hospice house. (We did not know how long our son would last: the cancer was consuming his body. He only had 9 days there before God took him home)
The garden was booming with tons of tomatoes. There was no time to can them or using the regular method of removing skins, etc. to freeze them. I pulled out the vacuum sealer, gathered lots of quart bags, chopped the fresh tomatoes into halves or quarters. They immediately went into the bags, vacuumed and sealed them and off to the freezer they went. I was told that there would be the fresh taste, color but the texture would change to mush. Who cares? They were going into sauces,  soups, chili, etc. and would be mush anyway. Aah-the taste-fabulous. I'm doing this from now on. At that time, I was only doing the Roma and Amish Paste tomatoes. The larger ones were eaten everyday. Hubster loves tomatoes off the vine. :)
Sewing: busy perfecting a new pattern to make an apron specially designed to cover a lot of clothing while the wearer gets downright dirty. Sometimes we have to do this. Our chapter is taking up weaving an Appalachian egg basket. We like getting dirty. Makes us feel good.
This drawing is about the size we're doing. It's our way of celebrating the Jubilee. Funny pictures will be sent to the Farm.

Monday, March 7, 2016

March-Rain-Irish Soda Bread

March in the Northwest brings warmer days and nights, more sun, and our usual rain. We've had more rain this winter than previous winters. What does that mean living here? I drink more warm coffee and I started to think of home made warm bread, soups and stews. With St. Patrick's Day coming on, my Irish soul screams Irish Soda Bread, Shepherd's Pie and lots of Reuben sandwiches.

This is a recipe I've used in the past.

Irish Soda Bread
1 1/4 cups white flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

To make buttermilk, pour 1 tsp white vinegar into 1 1/4 cups of milk.(You might as well keep buttermilk handy, it taste so much better than milk and vinegar.)  Preheat oven to 375F.
Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and “cut it in” until it is distributed evenly throughout the bowl. Combine with buttermilk and mix well. Add additional flour as needed a few tablespoons at a time until you achieve a dough stiff enough to stand without sagging. Knead the dough a few times in the bowl and shape into a ball.
Place the dough ball onto a lightly greased baking pan (we like to use a pie plate or cast iron skillet ). Flatten the dough with a spatula a bit. With a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top 3/4 inch deep . Bake at 375 F for 35-40 minutes.

But.... I must confess, after whipping up this mix, I haven't gone back to any recipe. This mix produces a moist, soft inside, rough outside, perfect loaf.
Here's what the loaf looks like

This is very quick to do up and I love this company and the flours it produces. 

We smoked a corned beef roast yesterday. You use a fruit based barbecue sauce to offset the pickling the beef has gone through. I used some strawberry preserves mixed into a smoky barbecue sauce with about 1/4 cup brown mustard. The pickling mix that comes with this roasts is discarded. It's an amazing way of preparing corned beef.

March promises spring. Its warmth is welcomed and needed. Little wild cilantro plants have surfaced in the garden buckets, raspberry leaves are sprouting and the buds on the blueberry plants are getting fatter. All of what Mother Nature is doing brings me joy. They are little things but lift the spirit in big ways. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Where I am, the frogs are singing every night, even during crazy wind storms. I drift off to sleep hearing their songs......

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How Time Flies! It's Almost Valentine's Day!

Where did January go? I finally received all my sewing room stuff out of storage (had two huge floods in the room, needed a new floor and it took 3 months to do all this) and spent hours per day putting everything away, looking for a lot of things, and finally, we're all set, organized (well, I mean, how I organize) and back sewing and quilting!!! Big YEAH!
Now it's February and we're staring at the 14th! How can you quickly do something special for a sewing, needlework or quilting friend in your life? I found a darling graphic that can be easily done up in Redwork style stitching and would look amazing on any cloth project--jean pocket, quilt block, book cover. You get my drift.

And, don't forget something chocolate: cupcakes, big cake. I'm doing my special cream cheese frosting on top of chocolate cake. With a little red food coloring, I'll make it pink.
Cream Cheese frosting:
1 - 8 ounce pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar  (most recipes call for 1 pound, that's way too sweet for me)
1-2 teaspoons vanilla  (I prefer just 1 teaspoon)

Cream both cheese and butter together until smooth with a hand mixer. Add powdered sugar a little at a time. Add vanilla.
Now you can tint the frosting with food coloring.

Have a special weekend with all your loved ones........

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Goals

We all do this! Make resolutions and how many times do we fulfill them. Last year and the lost my family incurred, I so got the message, "Life is short." I don't want to put off so many things I've done before. If I use divine intervention, or support from family and friends, there are some issues in my life that need changing.
My hobby and sometimes business, quilting, has been often pursued when I need a gift and always in a hurry. The art part of the process suffers. I want to let more creative juices flow and have them take their own time, take their own path. I want joy to come back to the process. What steps am I taking to achieve this? Often chaos has ruled my sewing studio. It was flooded back in October. Just yesterday, flooring was finished in the room and today I can actually enter the studio. While all this time has gone by, I had the opportunity to redraw the room and its contents. I am so excited about the changes I've made. Monday the company who has been storing all the equipment and such, are bringing everything back. It'll be a challenge to deal with how it was stored, but the end result will be my new studio. I've bought some colorful pegboards--they'll reduce any tools that normally haunt my cutting table and the longarm table.

And, once I get the cutting table in the right place, you see the above sitting right above it. My tool containers will look very different than ones you see for pegboards--check these out--
These hook on perfectly and are perfect for marking tools, scissors, rotary cutters, etc. Another addition which will add some awesome color is this utility cart--
And finally, to increase my time in this brightly colored studio--the walls are yellow--oh I mean yellow--a new vintage mini refrigerator is being added--she's adorable--
Can you get excited with me? No junk on the cutting table, no tools laying around the longarm quilting machine. I do have a cubical shelf holding 8 cubes. The cubes are turquoise and red which will hold the massive thread collection I have. Large shelf to hold boxes of fabric. All of this should contain the mess I lived with. Surrounded with color and space, I'm seeing some creative juices flowing.......I won't go hungry or thirsty either :) Fridgie will hold some apples, chilled water, veggies to munch on and whatever lunch I decide for the day. Cream for coffee..........aaah